Remember when your parents had “the talk” with you? Was it uncomfortable and awkward? Well, that was then! Nowadays, “the talk” between you and your parents is more often about aging and housing. Here are a few tips to help ensure that the initial talk about assisted living is productive.
Know that you’ll need to have this conversation more than once. This is a big decision. Your parents will need time between discussions to think about where they want to live. Offer to be available to answer their questions anytime.
These are your parents. Always try to be respectful and helpful. Be reassuring. Unless time is of the essence, calm them with the idea that this decision doesn’t have to be made immediately. Share your concerns for their health and safety. Try to encourage them to think of this move as a new adventure.
Your first and most helpful resource can be your county’s Commission on Aging. They have many valuable resources for senior citizens. They also have contact information for Senior Living Placement Specialists. These Specialists are familiar with the assisted living facilities in your area.
Enlist your siblings’ help. A few family meetings can clarify everyone’s expectations and questions. This will make sure that you each have the same answers to your parents’ questions.
Choose your words carefully and have your research done. This conversation can be positive and productive. Words like “assisted living” and “community” are more positive than “nursing home”. Try to keep the conversation respectful and loving. Your parents won’t feel as though you are talking down to them.
Try to have the conversation about assisted living well before your parents need to move. Give them time to make decisions and choices. This will prevent them from feeling pressured and rushed. They need time to accept the fact that they will be leaving their home. They need to come to terms with their increasing needs.
Do your research. Know what is available in your parents’ area. This might be the perfect time to move Grandma and Grandpa closer to their grandchildren. It’s a good idea to have a few brochures with pictures for them to mull over later.
Offer to take them to tour some of the assisted living homes in their area. Modern assisted living homes are very home-like. Be sure to mention that aides will be happy to do their laundry, cook their meals and do the housekeeping.
Know what’s in their price range. Try to know what they can afford. Do they have long-term care insurance? Are they eligible for VA “Aid and Attendance” or “Housebound” pensions? Talking with them about their finances may be difficult for them. Explain to them that they need to know what they can afford. At every opportunity, you should emphasize that they very much have a say in where they go.
The thought of leaving their belongings behind may disturb them. Assure them that they can take a few favorite things with them. Each facility has different allowances for personal belongings. If they have a pet, be sure to show them an assisted living facility that pet friendly. Of course, you’ll offer to help pack up and take care of the items they won’t be taking with them.
As your parents age, some aspects of daily living may become difficult for them. Your mom may have trouble with stairs and her house isn’t set up for single-floor living. Your dad may be missing the company of other gentlemen of his age. There are probably fishing stories to exchange. Explain to them that assisted living can greatly enhance their quality of life. This can ease their concerns.
Your parents might resist talking about moving. If they perceive your manner to be forceful or insistent they may feel threatened. Stay understanding and calm. Make sure they know that you respect their position in the family. The more you insist, the more they will resist.
It’s possible that your parents don’t know how much time you spend caring for them. Without making them feel guilty, be honest about how caring for them is affecting you. They might not realize that running errands, stopping by every day and doing their shopping takes precious hours out of your day. Try gently to let them know that you’re finding it hard to balance all your responsibilities.
Ask them to visit an assisted living home with you. Curiosity can be a good thing! Reassure them that they are under no obligation to make any decisions until they are ready. Maybe they have no idea how comfortable and well designed a modern assisted living home is. If you schedule the tour around mealtime, ask in advance if you can share a meal with the residents. This allows your parents time to visit with the residents and ask questions. It also lets you all sample the cooking.
Remember, the decision to move to an assisted care home is a major life change. Your parents will need your support. Continue to have “The Talk” with them until they are ready to make that change.