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Freedom in Getting Older: 5 Tips to Encourage a Loved One

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Freedom in Getting Older: 5 Tips to Encourage a Loved One


Special promotional content provided by Wesley Woods Senior Living. 

By Terry Barcroft, President & CEO of Wesley Woods Senior Living 

Getting older has a lot of perks. As the CEO of a senior living organization with 10 communities across North Georgia, each day I get a glimpse of the lifestyle I eventually want. After I retire, I too want to be surrounded by a supportive community with ample opportunities to enjoy doing what I love. I look forward to the day when I don’t have to worry about maintaining a home or yard, but instead I’ll have more time to spend with family, to travel, and to finally do some gardening. 

There’s a lot of freedom in getting older, but understandably some people may not be eager to embrace big lifestyle changes like retiring or leaving a home that has decades-worth of memories. If you’d like a loved one to consider downsizing and moving into a senior living community, here are five tips to encourage them and guide the conversation.

Remember the golden rule.

It might feel uncomfortable to talk about aging-related issues, but it’s important to have these conversations so that you can honor your loved one’s preferences to the best of your ability. It may also seem cliché but the most important—and compassionate—way to approach your loved one is to follow the golden rule of treating them like you’d want to be treated if the roles were reversed.  How you approach this conversation is as important as the discussion itself. For tips to help you with this conversation and others, check out my last article: How do we have tough conversations with aging loved ones? 

Paint a picture of freedom.

It’s natural to initially feel overwhelmed by the idea of big changes like downsizing and moving, but there are many long-lasting benefits which should be the focus of the conversation. There is financial freedom in reducing expenses for things like home maintenance, property taxes, utility bills, yard work, and more. There is also emotional freedom in decluttering and getting rid of stuff no longer used. Encourage your loved one that these benefits will enable them to redirect expenses and time toward experiences and interests that make for a more fun and rewarding future. 

Highlight the benefits of a supportive community. 

Each day I witness the vibrancy and independence of the residents in our senior living communities because they have easy access to medical care, social opportunities, existing and new interests, and more, all in a comfortable and convenient environment. The misperception that getting older leads to a loss of independence is why some people avoid talking about moving into a senior living community. But when a community prioritizes the health, safety, and wellbeing of its residents as they age, the residents get the support they need to stay independent. Alternatively, an environment that isn’t equipped to address the physical and emotional needs of people as they get older can be detrimental to one’s health and safety, and can lead to loneliness, depression, and isolation. Assure your loved one that you share the same goal that they do: you want to see them have the best possible quality of life at every age.

Ask them about their preferences. 

Before you offer advice or bring up concerns, ask your loved one about their preferences for their future. Talk to them about interests and hobbies they want to enjoy regardless of their age. Perhaps there’s a new interest they want to explore but haven’t had the time because of other responsibilities. Ask what they want to keep or change about their living situation, and how they envision their living situation supporting them in the future. 

Offer your help.

There are many ways you can ease your loved one’s anxieties about downsizing and moving. Offer to research communities and set up tours so your loved one can see in person which communities align with their preferences. Help them review their finances or arrange to talk with a professional to map out a financial strategy for the future. Help them donate unwanted items and get their home ready to potentially sell. You have an important role in encouraging your loved one about the many benefits and freedoms that come with living in a senior living community.

Wesley Woods Senior Living is a nonprofit senior care provider operating 10 communities across North Georgia, including Wesley Woods Towers near Decatur. The Towers—owned by Emory and managed by Wesley Woods Senior Living—is an independent-living, residential retirement community for individuals 62 years of age older. Visit www.wesleywoods.org for more information.