We all want our parents to live in their home peacefully until the end of their days, but this just isn’t realistic in most cases. As our parents and loved ones continue to age, they become progressively less able to care for themselves in the same comfort and safety than they were when they were younger. At some point, it might be in everyone’s best interest to consider the possibility of assisted care.
If you’re concerned that your elderly parents will not be able to care for themselves and live independently much longer, this post will help you start an “ongoing discussion” with them about the possibility of assisted living. We call it an “ongoing discussion” because we want to make a distinction between the topic we’re addressing and one that involves a more immediate need.
Here are some of the subjects we’ll cover to help you start, continue, and act on this difficult conversation.
- Bringing up the topic of assisted living or senior care with your parents.
- Focusing on the positive aspects of assisted living.
- Addressing your parents’ concerns.
- Following up on the conversation afterward.
Starting the Conversation
One of the most difficult parts of having this conversation is bringing the topic up in the first place. That’s why it’s best to broach the subject sooner rather than later, when mom and dad are still faring pretty well on their own and the situation’s not an emergency.
You might even try to get an idea of how they feel about assisted living a few weeks before you start the actual conversation. You can do this by asking some questions about their health or how things are going in the household. This will help you come up with the right approach and prepare you for some of your parents’ objections.
When the timing is right, bring up the topic of assisted living at one of your next visits. It’s best to do it when everyone’s relaxed and happy, perhaps over dinner. Express your concerns clearly and in terms that suggest you want to comply with their wishes. Tell them that you’re there to help, not to make any decisions for them. Lastly, make it clear that you’re not asking them to make a decision right away and that you just want them to start thinking about it.
It will seem less threatening under these circumstances. It’s also the best way to let your parents feel that assisted living is their own idea or at least one they can help to develop. In the beginning, you’re just trying to plant the seed of eventual senior care in your parent’s mind.
While The Conversation is Underway
Once the topic is out in the open, make sure to choose your words carefully. For instance, don’t call the assisted care location a “facility.” Start emphasizing the positives by referring to it as a “community” instead. Tone also matters. Make sure that yours remains and calm and measured throughout the conversation.
As the conversation continues, focus on the positive aspects of assisted living, especially how it can make your parents’ lives more satisfying and easier to manage. One of the most important benefits of professional senior care is the safety it offers residents. Emphasize how important their health and safety are to you and that help is never far away in an assisted living community.
Focus on the social aspects of assisted care as well, especially if either of your parents has complained about loneliness as they’ve grown older. Assure them that in an assisted living community, residents are always surrounded by friends and that there are organized activities they can participate in as well. But make sure to balance this all out by reminding them that they’ll still have the right to as much privacy as they want.
Another appealing feature of assisted living is that staff members take care of things like maintenance, painting, and yard work. This means that your parents won’t have to work nearly as hard as they do now, which will free up time for vacations, relaxing, and any leisure activities they’ve wanted to pursue.
Addressing Your Parents’ Concerns
Make sure that you stay responsive and compassionate by using “reflective listening.” Reflective listening is a communication strategy in which you focus on what the other person is trying to say by listening closely, reflecting on the content for a moment, and repeating their ideas back to them to ensure you’ve understood them correctly. It also entails staying on topic and acknowledging their perspective even if you don’t agree with it.
Reflective listening will allow addressing the concerns your parents have about leaving home and moving into assisted living. Use it to gain a deeper understanding of how frightening a change of this magnitude must be for them. Your parents or other loved ones are bound to be fearful at the prospect of losing their independence or being forced to change their lifestyle, so make sure you listen closely to what they have to say. Perhaps most importantly, remember that assisted living might symbolize mortality in your parents’ minds, which gives you every reason in the world to be compassionate and patient.
The Pros and Cons of Assisted Living
No situation is perfect. Your parents are certain to have a host of legitimate objections and concerns about moving into assisted living. And while the positives outweigh the negatives, it might be difficult for your parents to see the truth of this at first.
You can help them find clarity by sitting down and making a list of pros and cons with them. While making the list, discuss each concern that they have and allow them to walk you through the logic that’s created them. This isn’t a time to argue, but you can lessen their concerns by pointing out whatever positive aspects of assisted care might offset them. Lastly, remind them that they’ll have plenty of help making the transition.
Following Up on The Conversation
It’s important to follow up on the conversation after it’s over. Otherwise, the necessary arrangements might be delayed as the idea of assisted living starts to fade from your parents’ minds. The most important thing is not to be pushy. Let your parents stay actively involved in the decision and you’ll get much better results.
Research several different communities with your parents and accompany them on tours of a few of them. This will help them remain objective and reassure them that they won’t have to do any of this on their own. By following up in this manner, you and your parents will stay in contact with the idea of assisted living and it will make it that much easier to take action when the time comes.
This can be a difficult time even for the closest of families, but don’t hesitate to start planning for your parents’ or loved ones’ final years. Start the process as soon as possible for the best results. Once you’ve gotten a feel for where your parents stand on the subject of assisted living, set up a time to broach this all important subject. If you have any questions at all, please contact us at American Orchards.