Dealing With Change

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1. Always keep your loved one's best interests in mind. Listen to his or her feelings, needs, wishes and desires. Allow loved ones to make as many decisions as possible to give them a greater sense of control. Realize you cannot force people to do what they don't want to do.

2. Talk with family. Before you talk to your parent or loved one, talk to other members of your family to make sure you agree on the issues at hand and reach consensus on how best to address those issues.

3. Find out what's available. Tour facilities and gather information on services. Share your findings with family members.

4. Decide how and when to talk with your loved one. Keep in mind this is not one talk, but will involve many conversations over a period of weeks, perhaps months. Some families find it beneficial to rehearse important conversations before having them with their loved ones.

5. Treat your loved one with respect. Acknowledge the sadness that comes from loss and the fear caused by change. At the same time, help your loved one understand the peace of mind it will bring you knowing they are living in a safe situation.

6. Enlist the help of a third party. Recruit a doctor, pastor or close friend, to talk with your loved one about how a lifestyle change will improve their health and safety.

7. Assure your loved one that you'll always be there for them. Fill new living quarters with personal belongings, photos and other items that are meaningful and important.

8. Accentuate the positive. Many seniors' lives change for the better when they enter living situations that meet their social, emotional, physical and spiritual needs.