As the baby boomer generation grows older, more and more people are facing the need to make difficult decisions regarding their parents’ long-term care. And while families may be confident that transitioning to an assisted living facility is the right decision for their older loved ones, the idea of moving can be uncomfortable and emotional for most seniors. As a result, far too many families wait until a fall or other health scare occurs before addressing their loved one’s needs. Don’t delay the discussion until a crisis arises; follow these tips to start important conversations about assisted living with your elderly parents.
Before you approach the topic of assisted living, be sure you know about the different types of senior care and the options available to your parents. Start by listing out the concerns you have for your older parents. For instance, are you’re worried about the safety of their current home environment? Are they able to correctly manage their medication on their own? Then, educate yourself on the levels of care offered at different senior care facilities and research the average costs of each type. This way, you’ll be thoroughly prepared to initiate important conversations with your parents.
Establish an open line of communication
It’s never too early to speak with your parents about their future care needs, and encouraging your parent to consider assisted living will likely require multiple conversations. Start “planting the seed” about assisted living by mentioning the value and benefits of such facilities to your parents. Explain how assisted living can make their lives easier and more fun, highlighting aspects of assisted living facilities such as more social interaction, freshly-prepared meals, reduced home maintenance, and on-call safety assistance in case of emergencies.
Include family in the discussion
When it comes to having the assisted living discussion with your parents, it can be difficult to go at it alone. Recruit the help of siblings or other family members to encourage your parents to look into assisted living. Then consider arranging a meeting in a comfortable and casual setting to bring up the topic and express your concerns as a family without overwhelming your parents.
Offer empathy and reassurance
As you navigate the conversation with your parents, it’s important that your parents don’t feel like decisions are being made for them. Be empathetic and try to understand their anxieties or concerns about moving into assisted living. Whenever possible, ask your parents to tour local assisted living facilities with you and ensure they are actively involved in the decision-making process.
Make planning for the future an ongoing conversation
Deciding on a plan for your parents’ future health needs is rarely accomplished after just a single conversation. Even after your parents have made a decision, it’s a good idea to continue discussing their future plans and goals. For example, if your loved one has been diagnosed with a progressive condition such as Parkinson’s disease or dementia, looking into a facility that can meet both their current and future needs is essential. Many families find that moving to an assisted living community within a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) is a great solution for their parents since these communities offer residents access to multiple on-site healthcare facilities as their care needs change over time.
While starting the conversation about assisted living with your elderly parents is never easy, expressing your concerns sooner rather than later can save your family from the stress of making hurried decisions as the result of a health or safety emergency.