If you’re the child of an aging parent, it’s likely that one day you’ll need to talk to them about assisted living communities. Perhaps your parent will never get to that point, or maybe they’re in need of such services right now. Regardless of where they are on the continuum, these tips can help you talk about assisted living with parents and make the transition less stressful overall.
Keep The Discussion Going
When it comes to deciding on what type of assisted living community you want your parents to live in, there’s no one size fits all option. You need to evaluate your particular situation and then talk with your parents about their preferences. Consider starting a discussion with them by focusing on specific aspects of life in an assisted living community, such as: Where they’d like to live? What are their interests and hobbies? What types of activities would they like to participate in while living there? How much help do they think they might need from staff members? Do they have special medical needs that may require more personal care than other residents receive?
Recruit Your Siblings To Help
One of your parents’ biggest concerns is that they won’t be taken care of by their children when they can no longer do it themselves. It can be difficult to reassure them that you are capable without sharing too much information about how you will manage, but your siblings might be a big help in reassuring your parents. Other family members who live far away and even close friends can assist; just ask them not to share details with anyone else unless otherwise instructed.
Take Your Parents On A Tour Of Local Assisted Living Facilities
It’s a good idea to take your parents on a tour of local assisted living communities so they can see firsthand what these types of environments are like. This will allow you and your parents to talk with employees and residents and feel how each place operates. Most importantly, it’ll help your parents see what sorts of things are available in assisted living settings—the amenities, activities, a number of staff members on hand—as well as which facilities feel most like home. Once you’ve done some exploring, ask yourself: Which place does my parent like best? Is there anything I think he or she might change about that one? Why or why not? What kind of setting feels homier to them right now?
Consult Your Family Doctor
If you’re close to your parents, you should make sure they see their family doctor on a regular basis. It’s also a good idea to enlist any doctors your parents see for a second opinion about what sort of care they may need in an assisted living community. Another helpful resource is your local Area Agency on Aging, which will have resources that can help you find suitable facilities and information on how to proceed with getting your parent(s) into them. Having all of these people involved allows everyone to be clear on what kind of care each party can provide and might make it easier for them to broach difficult subjects, like whether or not it’s time for assisted living.
Consider Your Wording Carefully
While it’s tempting to avoid some of these tough conversations by sending a text or email, that can be a quick way to ruin trust. Be careful not to send messages while angry, and make sure you speak with your parents face-to-face. You’ll want their undivided attention, so don’t do it while they’re distracted (even if they tell you they’re free at first). But how should you start? Again, plan. Think about how long it’s been since you last spoke to them one-on-one and what issues have arisen since then. If possible, try talking in a location away from home—away from distractions—where your parents feel safe opening up about tough topics without fear of judgment.