For many families, there comes a time when it becomes clear that a parent needs to move to an assisted living center. Maybe they don’t get around as well as they used to, or it could be the result of a health condition that requires a level of care that they cannot receive at home. In some cases, the family member might have a hard time managing their home.
Even with clear signs that assisted living is the best option, people can be reluctant to have this conversation with their parents. You might worry about how your parents will react, and you might feel like you are taking some of their independence away or pushing them to do something they do not want to do. All of these feelings are understandable, and this is a conversation that can be difficult even under the best of circumstances.
If you feel like it is time to have this conversation with one of your parents, the best thing you can do is prepare ahead of time. By planning ahead, you can make sure to enter the conversation with all of the information you need, and you can also set the stage for a healthy discussion that will be productive, rather than one that is filled with frustration and tension.
Start the Conversation Early
This should be a conversation that starts when your parent is still capable of living on his or her own. If you wait for the situation to be urgent, it is going to feel like you ambushed them with an important issue that is going to significantly change the way they live. By starting early, you can have a discussion that is much less threatening and it can usually be carried out in a way that is less emotional. Start by telling them that you are not suggesting that anything needs to occur in the near future, but that you just want to start the conversation so you can honor their wishes if anything happens.
Do Some Research
If you do a little research before you start the conversation, you will have a better ability to answer their questions and address their concerns. Learn about the different senior living options that are available in your area. Maybe even take a tour of some of the facilities so you can learn about the living arrangements, services and amenities that are available.
In this conversation, you are also going to need to review their finances so you can make an assessment of what they can afford, and you are also going to want ask them about what they are going to miss about living in their home. Some of these issues might be uncomfortable, but they are an important part of planning, and they are necessary for finding the right assisted living arrangements for the individual.
Acknowledge Their Concerns
Even when they know it is for the best, seniors can have a hard time coming to terms with the idea of moving to an assisted living center. You have to accept that this might not be easy for them, and that they may have some concerns. It may seem like they are being unreasonable at times, but it is important to stay calm. Don’t push too hard and don’t act as if the decision is out of their hands. Acknowledge their concerns and try to work through them with your parents. If you get too persistent or dismissive, it will feel like they are being forced into something.
Be Positive in Tone and Language
Your tone and language can have a significant impact on how productive the conversation will be. You should try to maintain a positive attitude during the conversation. In addition to that, you want to watch the language you use. Instead of talking about moving to a “facility,” start a conversation about moving to a “senior living community” or a “retirement community.”
As a further point, you want to focus on the positives of moving to an assisted living center instead of the negatives that may come with them living on their own. You will have to address the issues that exist in their current living situation, but it can feel like they are being attacked if these problems receive too much emphasis.
It is natural and understandable that an older person might be reluctant to make a move to assisted living. However, if you can come together as a family and have a conversation in a way that is productive, it will be easier to make the decision when the need arises.