Senior Care: How To Prevent Communication Breakdowns

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moving to assisted livingYour mother refuses to discuss safer living options after her second fall. You disagree with your siblings about the care of your parents. Your spouse is concerned that his mother is not receiving adequate care at a nursing home.
These are just a few of the many scenarios that individuals and families face every day. When it comes to challenges in senior living, poor communication is often at the root of the problem.

No matter what, be sure to remember that you are not alone. Knowing that the population of those over age 65 grows rapidly with every year, you can take comfort in the fact that there are many people who have grappled with the very same issues you are currently facing.
In fact, the chances are very good that there are individuals right in your own community who have walked in your shoes. You can learn from their mistakes and take note from the solutions they found.
One of the best ways to track down these individuals is through support groups, family councils at a parent’s community, your employer’s human resources department, or even just asking trusted friends and neighbors.

Sometimes an outsider’s opinion is beneficial when you are faced with a personal family problem. In some situations, it even may be necessary to have an objective third party step in. Mediation is just one of several professions that can be utilized to solve these problems.
Mediation professionals specialize in resolving conflicts and making compromises-they do not make or finalize decisions. Instead, they lead family members through the communication process. Jeanette Twomey, a mediation expert with Mediation Works, has helped numerous families navigate any conflicts that arise.
“Mediation is really a highly effective way for families to reach decisions about living arrangements, medical care and finances,” she said. “It really does help bridge some of those communication gaps.”
One unique feature of this process is the non-judgmental mediator, who is skilled in improving communication among the family members, many of whom have not really heard each other before they come to the mediation table. It gives them the opportunity to be heard and understood.
“Mediators help keep them on track, and help make sure they understand what is fundamentally important to each of them,” said Jeanette. “In the end, I help them come up with a solution that meets the needs of the older person and integrates the interests of all people who are concerned.”

It is comforting to know that you and your loved ones are not the only family to have a communication breakdown. Attending support group meetings will allow you to meet with like-minded people, share similar scenarios, confide in each other and build healthy camaraderie. Furthermore, important resources can be shared and solutions from experienced members will abound.
To find a support group in the Washington Metro area, view the calendar on

Geriatric Care Managers are known as the one-stop-resource for problems related to retirement living situations and aging in general. Geriatric care managers make it their priority to be informed about every option that is offered to help families. Perhaps they might direct you to a solution the whole family can agree upon. For more information on how to find a geriatric care manager, consult the Geriatric Care section on page 89.

When it comes to a breakdown in communication between residents and communities, ombudsman are available to advocate on behalf of the residents rights. This national program is a great solution to resolve any differences between residents and providers, and the ombudsman will investigate into any complaints and determine what appropriate action should be taken. To find out more about an ombudsman near you, please visit the Northern Virginia Ombudsman Program’s website at

Some people residing at continuing care retirement community, assisted living community or nursing community often cannot speak up for themselves. Many communities have sponsored Family Council, where families of residents can meet and share their concern. These meetings are typically scheduled every couple weeks, and a representative from the community may be present to address concerns. When it comes to making a difference in the life of your loved one, more support means more bargaining power. Contact the community directly to find out about these opportunities, and if a group does not exist, speak to the management about creating one.

Employee Assistance Programs, often known as EAPs, are a service put in place by most mid-sized and large employers. These programs usually have resources available to help both employees and their families through eldercare challenges. Consult with your company’s human resources department for more information about these great resources for better communication and more information.

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