As a child, you looked to your parent for strength and guidance, but now that you are an adult yourself, the tables have turned. Aging parents often develop needs that surpass their children’s caregiving abilities. If you have found yourself in this common situation, you may want to suggest a move to an assisted living community. Here are some tips to help you if you aren’t sure how to start the conversation.
Don’t Force It
Nobody likes being put on the spot, including your parent. Even if you’ve noticed a decline in your parent’s well-being over the past few months, avoid opening the conversation with an overly urgent or emotional tone. Instead, bring the topic of assisted living up gradually when opportunities naturally present themselves.
For example, if your parent has had a fall or illness, you can use that to segue into a general discussion about 24/7 health care. Or, if that’s too direct, discuss a movie you watched or article you read about assisted living. This way, your parent doesn’t feel personally attacked.
Once you broach the subject, keep the conversation going. You won’t be able to settle such an important matter in a single sitting, and your parent will need time to reflect on what you’ve said in order to reach the decision that’s best for them.
Of course, if your parent is hurting themselves or others, you may need to move them into assisted living as soon as possible. Consult with their doctors and a lawyer to decide whether your loved one may be required to move for safety reasons.
Research Your Parent’s Options
Your aging parent may not have the energy or stamina to start the assisted living community search on their own. Take the time to research and visit a few communities before initiating the conversation so you’re prepared to answer any questions they may have. Pay attention to details like:
- Size of the community
- Style of the residences
- Food choices
- Activities offered
- Fitness opportunities
- Extent of caregiving
- Rules on pets
- Transportation options
- Distance from friends and family
- General feel of the community
Be sure to research how much each community will cost and decide what’s affordable for your family. This may require delving into your parent’s finances, which they may or may not be comfortable with. However, this is truly need-to-know information, as it will help you whittle down your parent’s options.
Put Your Parent First
This may be obvious, but you should keep your parent as involved in the decision-making process as possible. Ultimately, you are asking them to choose a new home, potentially for the rest of their life. That’s a heavy decision!
Be receptive to your parent’s personal wishes, priorities and criteria. Consider going with them on a tour of an assisted living community so they can get a feel for the type of life they would have if they moved in.
A crucial part of putting your parent first is also understanding how much they can handle emotionally. Some parents are more hands-off and may want you to take the reins, whereas others are highly independent and want to make their own decisions. Take these preferences into account and try not to overstep your bounds.
It can be tough for a parent to take advice from their child when they are the one used to giving advice. Understand that your parent may dismiss your opinion simply because of preexisting family dynamics.
In these scenarios, it may help to enlist other close family members, like siblings, aunts, uncles or immediate cousins, to facilitate the conversation. If your parent sees that many family members favor assisted living, they might be more willing to consider your position. Just be careful how you present the information, as you don’t want to gang up on them.
Sometimes, a parent will not listen to anyone in the family. If that’s the case, try using a mediator. This could be a health care professional that works with your parent regularly, a trusted religious or spiritual leader or even just a close friend, perhaps one who has firsthand experience in assisted living. This will make the conversation more objective and tolerable for your parent.
Assisted Living at Silver Creek in St. Augustine, FL
You only want the best for your parent, which is why you’re taking the time to thoroughly research all the options in your area. If you’re currently searching for a community for your loved one, we invite you to take a tour of Silver Creek. We offer assisted living, memory care, and respite care and are staffed with friendly caregivers who can meet your loved one’s daily needs. We also provide a full calendar of activities and events to enrich our residents’ lives. Call us at (800) 940-0988 or contact us online to schedule your tour today.
Here is a conversation from April 21, 2010, about How To Talk To Parents About Assisted Living on NPR.<< News
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