The Right Decision Starts With Asking the Right Questions
Learn How to Be a Good Listener
The answer to this question alone can help guide your decision-making:
What animates—or brings to life—your loved one?
What do they like to do? What have you always felt your parents would enjoy, but you didn’t have the time or a suitable vehicle to safely take them there?
Maybe they love pets or being around young children. Maybe they appreciate modern art or architecture, or thrive as a gardener or horticulture enthusiast.
We find that some children focus on what they want for their parents—and not on what their parents want for themselves. Keep in mind the reality of what your loved one is going to do in a senior living community: In their 80s or 90s, they are likely set in their ways. It is perfectly fine, and even beneficial, to encourage them to explore new things, but as you evaluate potential senior living communities, consider what your parents are most likely to enjoy, appreciate, and actually participate in.
This process will involve many conversations—and require you to be an active listener.
Being a good listener is a valuable skill that can improve your relationships, enhance your communication, and help you better understand and connect with others. Here are some tips on how to be a good listener:
Give Your Full Attention:
When your parents are speaking to you about their wishes for the future, make a conscious effort to give them your undivided attention. Put away distractions, such as your phone or other devices.
Mentally be in the moment and fully engage in the conversation. Avoid thinking about your response or what you’ll say next while the other person is talking.
Use Open Body Language:
Keep your body language open and inviting. Avoid crossing your arms or appearing disinterested or in disagreement with what your parents are saying, as this can create a barrier between you and them.
Let the speaker finish their thoughts before responding. Avoid interrupting, as it can be seen as disrespectful and disrupt the flow of the conversation.
Try to understand your parents’ perspective and emotions. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine how they might be feeling as they approach a major life change and transition.
Some people may need more time to express themselves. Be patient and allow them to speak at their own pace without rushing them.
Offer empathy and support when your parents are sharing their emotions or concerns. Acknowledge their feelings and provide reassurance.
Be Mindful of Your Tone:
Use a calm and nonjudgmental tone in your responses. Your tone can greatly influence how well your parents receive your feedback.
Being a good listener is a skill that can be developed with practice and mindfulness. It enhances your relationships and communication with others, leading to better understanding and more meaningful interactions particularly as you discuss your parents’ future senior care needs.