How To Talk About Assisted Living With Your Elderly Parentsadmin
No one looks forward to the day when their parents can no longer live independently. However, denial and delays are dangerous with your parents’ safety at risk. If you think it’s time to move your parent or parents into an assisted living facility, start researching your options and planning your approach as soon as possible.
Keep Your Relationship Positive
Before you sit down to discuss assisted living, use every interaction as an opportunity to listen and learn. Check in often, and keep your conversations positive while gradually collecting important information about their health and daily living. Remember, you want them to feel comfortable discussing their health problems and future with you. Regular conversations are the best way to develop trust over time, which will make a discussion on assisted living easier in the future.
When you feel tempted to criticize their choices or make demands, take a moment to focus on positive alternatives instead. Instead of telling your mom she needs help, casually mention a friend whose mom is thriving thanks to a home nurse. Instead of listing the activities at a nearby nursing home, see if she would be interested in learning to dance or paint. If you approach the idea of assisted living in indirect ways, it won’t be as jarring when you finally mention it directly.
Make A Concrete Plan For Care
Before you sit down with your parents and encourage them to consider an assisted living center, you should have as much concrete information as possible. You should already know which center or centers are ideal for them, how you will help them through the transition, and what benefits and amenities they can look forward to.
Consider the following practical factors:
- Transition – What will happen to their home? How will they get to their new home?
- Support – Will your siblings help with the move and visit regularly? Is everyone in the family on board with the options you present?
- Cost – What is your budget? Will insurance cover their care? Is medicare an option? What makes a facility valuable?
- Location – Is it close to you or other family members? Will they enjoy the weather?
- Independence – How much freedom will they have? Can they socialize freely, explore outddor spaces, and go on outings?
- Privacy – Will they have their own room?
- Medical Care – Are medical treatments readily accessible? Is the facility equipped for emergencies?
- Accessiblity – If they have dementia or disabilities, will it be easy to get around?
Be ready to answer questions, and consider taking a tour yourself before inviting your parents to do the same.
Recruit Others For Help
Sometimes, it’s easier to receive criticism from people who aren’t emotionally attached to us. A third party may be able to provide some perspective before you attempt to “persuade” your parents. Ask a neighbor, friend, or health care provider to share some gentle feedback. If your parents are driving erratically, skipping meals, or showing other signs that they’re no longer safe on their own, it isn’t unreasonable for a doctor or friend to point them out.
Work together with your siblings, cousins, and other family members too. Don’t shoulder the entire burden of researching their options and sitting down with them. Make sure you all agree on the plan, then ask some of your family members to join you for the discussion. If your parents react with anger or confusion, they won’t direct all of it your way.
Anticipate Their Concerns Beforehand
Once you have a plan, make sure you’re prepared for their reactions. They may feel betrayed, abandoned, deceived, or ambushed. They may even laugh off your concerns and say you’re overreacting. Of course, they could also surprise you by accepting your help. Be ready to respond to resistance or acceptance with empathy.
Remember, anticipating isn’t the same thing as predicting. If you assume your dad will get offended or refuse to respond when you bring up assisted living, you’ll use defensive language that encourages exactly this reaction. Instead, ask open-ended questions that allow him to express his preferences, and handle resistance with calm understanding. When discussing assisted living, itâ€™s important to “probe deeply” â€“ in other words, learn the concrete reasons for his resistance.
Don’t view this conversation as a battle between reason and emotion, or facts and delusions. Instead, put yourself in your parent’s position. Use a gentle tone, express gratitude for the sacrifices they’ve made for you, and explain that you want to help. Don’t assume you already know what they’re feeling or how they will react. Instead, keep an open mind while preparing for all possibilities.
Address Your Own Emotions
It’s perfectly normal to feel guilty, afraid, sad, and even ashamed as you explore your parents’ care options. However, don’t let these feelings prevent you from taking action. Instead, learn to acknowledge and cope with them. For example, if you feel guilty, is it because you don’t want to disrespect your parents’ authority by “parenting” them? Take the time to examine this emotional response; you’ve been conditioned to rely on their wisdom and defer to their authority, so it feels wrong to attempt to control them. You’re not reversing roles, though. You’re simply returning some of that love and protection.
You may also feel ashamed for turning to outsiders for help, instead of taking responsibility for their care. If you have space in your home or free time in your schedule, you may struggle to justify this decision. However, caring for another adult (especially one with health problems) is an exhausting endeavor. It’s also risky; you’re not trained to handle emergencies or spot signs of mental or physical deterioration. Ultimately, they may be safer in the hands of professionals. You’ll also spare them the embarrassment of depending on their child and feeling like a burden.
AARP also stresses the importance of sharing your emotions with your parents. It will comfort them to know they’re still needed, and it may help them understand your perspective. If you constantly worry that your mom will fall or forget to take her medication, tell her about your anxiety. She’s still your parent, and she has the power to ease your pain by providing a solution.
Of course, the discussion of assisted living is rarely limited to a single conversation. It’s an ongoing process that may take weeks, months, or even years to navigate, as you and your parents move through difficult emotions and take in new information and options. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead and focus on the strength of your relationship above all else. If you want your parents to be receptive when you bring up relocation, show sensitivity before and after you broach the topic itself. If you want to schedule a tour or talk to someone who can help answer questions, call us at Heritage Court.