Time waits for no one. This quote can put life in perspective, especially if you are caring for an aging family member. As time continues passing on maybe you’ve noticed your aging parents are showing signs that they are in need of some extra help. Maybe you’re just trying to be proactive. If you are your parent’s primary caregiver or part of major decision-making for them, do not feel guilty about the possibility of them moving into a senior living community.
We know it’s a difficult decision to even think about a move to assisted living, but it could be the best decision you ever make. Remember not to think about this as a selfish decision but one that is in your elderly parents’ best interest for long-term care. There are so many benefits to assisted living and certain steps you can take before deciding if assisted living is right for you and your family members. This type of upfront research and preparedness will help you when the time comes to start the conversation with your parents about assisted living. Plus, it will provide some much-needed peace of mind for both you and them while you navigate through this delicate time of your life.
How to start the conversation with your aging parents about assisted living
Research senior living housing options
This seems like a no-brainer, but you want to be prepared for this conversation when the time comes. Knowing where to start with this can be challenging for many reasons. Try to set your emotions aside when thinking through these details about your parents’ future because it will only make things feel heavier and add even more stress. Think about what their needs are in terms of home care right now and future long-term care. Making a list of questions is helpful and be sure to be honest and thorough.
- Do they have trouble remembering things?
- Can they move around and walk independently?
- Do they need help with basic hygiene such as bathing or getting dressed?
- Do they need transportation to doctor’s appointments or to the grocery store?
- Do they need medical care or have to have prescription medication?
- Are they able to afford assisted living options?
These are pretty basic questions to start with but you can see how important they are when it comes to collecting information and getting a good idea of their independence. This information will help you when it comes time to discuss your parents’ future and it will help you make it clear to them the possible services they need. Communication in serious matters like this is so important, so before you have the discussion about assisted living look into the things you need to know and give yourself time to process everything.
Keep the discussion about senior living options ongoing
Making this life-changing decision is tough, but stay positive. There are many seniors living in senior living communities around the country who are thriving, but it is a process. Talking to your parents about their future needs and their options on a continual basis is a must. Conversations like this are too big to only have once or even twice. Bringing up your loved ones’ future care in a genuine way will mean a lot to them, but remember it’s a two-way street. Be sure to listen to their thoughts, feelings, concerns, or possible fear about their care and living options. They are after all an adult and talking about their own health and possible loss of independence will be difficult for them.
Keeping the conversations in front of them will be important and it will help both sides feel prepared during the entire decision-making process. No matter the age of your loved ones, these types of discussions are beneficial, even if they may be years away from needing assisted living. Having older children involved in their parent’s lives in a positive way without needing to be in control of everything is a blessing.
Ease the minds of your family members by keeping the conversation open and honest. There’s so much to gain from listening to your elderly parents and approaching this delicate decision with total care and compassion.
Keep your aging parents involved in the decision-making process
Adults are adults and this includes your elderly parents. Especially if they still have a high level of independence and you are talking about long-term care in the upcoming years, allow them to be involved in where they would like to live their life. If your mom and dad are still able to live life and have the mental capacity to make their own decisions, then you should respect their wishes.
There are some instances when orders from a doctor or special medical needs need to be considered, but overall if your elderly mom wants to live in a certain assisted living community then you should continue to discuss that facility. Often with age comes more pride, and older parents sometimes have a problem when someone else has to take care of them. The conversation can go well with a parent as long as you listen and keep their genuine wishes and care in mind, not your own.
Older children who become primary caregivers for their parents can become obsessed with the idea of control. Maybe they find it too challenging with the communication and would rather just take charge instead of listening and talking to their mom, dad or loved one. This is not helpful to either side and it will only cause more stress in the long run and could possibly even fracture relationships in the process. Try to keep emotions out of everything and truly think rationally about assisted living and what’s best for your parent. If this means you talk to a doctor, then please do so, but continue to keep your parents in the know and involved.
Tips for staying positive when talking about housing options with your parent
Always look on the bright side of your life. This is good advice, especially when you are tackling a decision like this. More often than not, older loved ones are not going to be a huge fan of the idea of even discussing assisted living communities. Be prepared for that. Take into consideration that they are an adult whose remaining life is being discussed, so there’s some heaviness with that. What can you do? Be an example of positivity and remember that presentation is everything.
Approaching your loved ones or parents with this topic of assisted living could trigger some negative emotions, as expected. The important thing is that you set the tone throughout the conversation with your parent. A few tips to keep in mind when having these conversations:
- A positive tone that is calm and quiet can make a big difference in this type of conversation
- Use non-threatening language such as “community” as opposed to “facility” or “condo-style” living rather than “rooms”
- Keep everything two-way, this is not a lecture but a conversation with family
- Highlight all the amenities of an assisted living community when talking to your parents about assisted living
- Show respect to your parent within the conversation and don’t ever talk down to them no matter their age or mental state
- Listen to their concerns and validate every feeling that your family member shares with you during the conversation even if you disagree
Having a conversation with your loved one about assisted living and long-term care is difficult for a person, especially older children. Not having them though is even worse. With them comes peace of mind for both the children and parents as it pertains to both knowing who will take care of them and their well-being. Take that step with your parent and talk to them about assisted living.
Talk about all the unknowns and “what-ifs” that are possible with your parents
We’ve talked a lot about assisted living for a loved one, but have only really referenced one parent. When opening up the discussion with your family and parents, it’s going to be key to leave no stone unturned. It may seem uncomfortable because who really likes to have this type of conversation anyway? But it’s important.
When beginning to think about your parents, especially if both are still alive together, one scenario that needs to be addressed is what happens when one of them passes? Of course, the health of a loved one can be dependent on the next course of action, but this is a legitimate question once parents reach a certain age.
The logistics of a situation like that can be overwhelming if it happens suddenly and you and your family are not prepared. Having a talk surrounding this type of event is important. Allow your family to come together and address collective concerns which could include questions like:
- If something happens, should our parents’ home be sold?
- Will the remaining parent move into an assisted living community or downsize?
- How do your parents feel about this?
- Do they wish to move into a senior living community?
Forcing yourselves to talk about these hypothetical situations will help bring some peace of mind and overall clarity for your mom and dad. That in itself can be a breath of fresh air when everyone is on the same page as family members. The support of family is everything, so don’t avoid them during this time.
Understand why your parents wish to remain living at home
Recognizing this is huge. Listening to what your family members are saying can be a learning process for you. Don’t immediately jump to anger if they don’t want to move into a senior living community when you feel that they should. There are reasons behind their thoughts and feelings on these things. Remember their reality is not yours. When you have a talk with them, be patient, compassionate, and empathetic to everything they say. As aging seniors this is already a humble conversation for them, so show listen before responding.
Family transition planning is important and ultimately aging seniors have reservations about moving into senior living or assisted living because they feel this is their final residence. Even though this is true, helping your loved one realize the benefits of a move like this and keeping the right attitude is everything. Put yourself into their position. It’s not easy knowing and coming to terms with the idea that you are living in the twilight of your life, whether your health is deteriorating or not.
Another real fear for an aging loved one having to broach the topic of assisted living is the idea of their relationship with you changing as well as possibly losing their independence. What if you don’t come to visit? These are big changes that can cast a shadow onto many seniors and are usually the big reason why they dig their heels in with regards to assisted living. Understandably so.
Be prepared to discuss options with them for your loved one to be able to stay in their home as long as they are able to. There are many great programs such as adult daycare or even in-home care should they require it. Depending on the health of your loved one, these are viable options without jumping directly into the talk about assisted living or senior living. Depending on the health services or amount of caregivers your loved one needs will ultimately decide if they can stay in their house or not.
Another important part is also thinking about finances and what’s going to work for them and what’s not. Anything related to finances can cause more stress than is necessary, so be wise before bringing up the subject of in-home health care. Be sure the options for in-home caregivers or related services are viable for them.
Ideally, try to focus on the benefits that will come with a transition to assisted living. They may feel their freedom and time will decrease but pointing out to them that many seniors actually find they have more time when they make the move. Why? Because their laundry, cleaning, and meals are already planned for them.
Do your research about progressive illnesses and memory care
It’s possible your loved one could already be diagnosed with a specific illness or disease. If this is the case, do your due diligence and learn more about it. How does it progress? Is it a fast-moving illness? How much time do they truly have before their memory goes or before they are in need of full-time care? Talk to their doctor about this subject or another person who has experienced a loved one making this transition due to this specific illness. It will help you feel not as overwhelmed.
Be sure to look into senior living facilities that offer care for this specific type of illness as well. If your parent has been diagnosed with Dementia and you’re unsure, make sure places have a program dedicated to memory care such as StoneBridge Senior Living. Residents who are in our memory care program have full engagement for ten hours of the day and enrichment activities. Visit each place and really understand how they will be able to help your parent move from residents of their own house to being residents of a shared community.
Think about the physical aspects of their illness as well as the emotional health or cognitive issues that will come along with it. Read reviews of places and get a good idea of how families and residents feel about certain communities. This is a must. If you’re worried about your family and their physical health, a community living situation is going to most likely be best for them, but choosing the right community is crucial.
We’re here for your family
Our StoneBridge Senior Living communities are here to serve you and your family in whatever capacity we can. Every StoneBridge Senior Living community offers beautiful settings, and conveniences that provide all the comforts of home. In addition, based on individual lifestyle needs and options, residents can enjoy a variety of services and amenities. If you have any questions or need help navigating future transitions for your loved ones, please feel free to contact us.