Guest Post Author: Chris Golen| thecommonsinlincoln.com
Discussing Quality of Life with Your Aging Parents
Living a long, happy and healthy life is something we desire, not only for ourselves but for our loved ones, as well. Indeed, as we grow older, quality of life issues become even more important. As executive director for a Boston-area senior living community, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of creating an environment for seniors where they can thrive as part of a community of neighbors, with the support they need.
What exactly is quality of life? It’s a hard concept to describe, and answers differ from person to person. Understanding how your parents define quality of life is important to ensuring their long-term happiness and health. Maybe it is the opportunity to volunteer with a local non-profit, stay active in their church, participate in a much-beloved hobby, or spend time with family and friends on a regular basis.
Scientifically, quality of life has been defined by three key indicators: overall view of life, relationship to self, and relationship to partners or friends.
Here are some recommendations to help identify how your parent defines quality of life and areas for improvement.
Overall View of Life
Ensuring your parents maintain a positive view on life is crucial to their happiness. This extends to peace of mind in their finances and confidence they have the care they need in the event their health changes.
It’s important to note that while a senior living community can provide the support your parents’ need, these communities are not one size fits all. A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) model allows your parents to plan for the unexpected and enjoy life. CCRCs often offer a life care plan, allowing your parents to mitigate the risk of potential rising costs of health care and protect their assets.
Relationship to Self
Opportunities to explore interests and focus on health will allow your parents to build self-confidence and enjoy life more fully. As your parent’s age, it can become difficult for them to motivate themselves to stay active, prepare healthy meals and value their physical health. Identifying a community of support may be the right environment. Senior living communities provide daily support, easy to follow fitness routines and delicious, healthy meals.
Health in mind, body, and spirit is the best way to ensure the greatest relationship to self. If your parent feels healthy and strong, they are better able to reach out to the ones they love, build new relationships, and continue to participate in life.
Relationship to Others
Interpersonal relationships will allow your parents to feel supported and part of a community. As we age, building new friendships can be difficult unless there are scheduled activities in place to create opportunities for social engagement.
Residents at senior living communities can become involved socially as they select from daily activities calendars to continue to enjoy the hobbies and experiences they love. Residents enjoy trips to local attractions, on-campus musical performances, opportunities to join or create a club for their hobbies, and lifelong learning with guest lectures.
Where Should You Begin?
It all starts with a conversation. Ask a series of questions to understand what aspects of your parent’s life they find most enjoyable. Questions could include:
- What activities have you been participating in recently?
- Are you able to participate in the activities purposeful to you?
- What are the upsides and downsides of living alone?
- Are you having any problems maintaining the house?
These questions will not only convey your interest in hearing about their lives, but it will allow you to pick up on major clues that their quality of life could improve with some changes.
If your parents seem lonely, removed, or have difficulty engaging in activities that give them purpose, transitioning to a new living situation, like a senior living community may be the right solution. With support from staff and daily opportunities to interact with others and participate in beloved activities, your parents may experience improvements in their overall view of life.
About the Author
Chris Golen, campus executive director at The Commons in Lincoln in Lincoln, Mass., has dedicated his career to improving the lives of seniors. Golen has made quality of life the top priority at The Commons by identifying a staff dedicated to making life more enjoyable for each resident. As a Continuing Care Retirement Community with a Five-Star Medicare rating in skilled nursing, The Commons offers the highest level of care available. Follow The Commons in Lincoln on Facebook or Twitter.