Health Wellness, Lifestyle, Senior Living

How to Talk to Parents About Assisted Living

These 5 tips can help you have meaningful conversations about senior care with your loved ones.

​​If you’re concerned that your mom and/or dad are no longer able to care for themselves like they used to, or that their safety is in question, it may be time to talk to your parents about assisted living. While every family is different, and there is no one approach that works for everyone, the 5 tips below can help you have meaningful conversations about senior care with your loved ones.

Tip #1: Be Prepared

Think about what you want to say in advance and avoid bringing up the topic in a moment of frustration. Instead, focus on how you want your parents to be happy at this stage of life rather than worrying about tasks that are no longer easy (or enjoyable) for them to do. Create a list of your concerns, and when it’s time to talk to your parents about assisted living, explore these concerns with questions for a two-sided conversation.

Consider the following questions to start a discussion about senior care:

  • Do you worry about driving? Would you be interested in finding other options for transportation, if that were available to you?
  • Do you feel safe at home? If not, what are your concerns with your living situation?
  • Would you enjoy life more if you didn’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning?
  • Would you ever consider moving to an assisted living community?
  • What is your plan for long-term care?

Tip #2: Find the Right Time

Don’t wait until a health crisis forces your family to make difficult decisions quickly, which can lead to results that no one is happy with in the end. Approach the subject of assisted living early on, when there’s no pressure to make an immediate decision. An opportunity may present itself, such as a moment when help was needed with the activities of daily living or to address a minor health issue and you weren’t available. Simply asking how to help during a pleasant visit together can be a good place to start.

Tip #3: Listen to Understand

No matter how close your family may be, discussing the idea of moving a parent into assisted living is never easy. It shows your loved one that you understand when you listen to their concerns, so being patient is the key to success. The more you’re willing to listen, the easier it will be to share your own concerns when it comes to their health and happiness. Even directly saying “I understand” and allowing your parent space to voice their feelings can go a long way in letting them know you’re coming to them from a place of love.

Even directly saying “I understand” and allowing your parent space to voice their feelings can go a long way.

Tip #4: Know That It’s a Process

Most people become anxious at the thought of moving, especially when it’s an idea that comes from someone else. Go into any conversation about assisted living with the mindset that it’s a process, not a one-and-done conversation. This is a big transition for anyone, and it will likely take time to make a decision, implement a plan, and get all the logistics in place before moving a parent into assisted living.

The easiest way to approach talking to parents about assisted living is to think about how you would feel if the roles were reversed. When you’re overwhelmed, you probably want to end the conversation as soon as possible. So don’t expect to solve everything in one conversation. Be patient and let your parents set the tone for when it’s time to push and when it’s time to bring up the idea of long-term care again at a later time. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment, every conversation is making progress.

Tip #5: Always Make a Plan

Ultimately, it’s your parent’s  decision to make about needing more help in their daily lives, and it’s important to acknowledge that at every step of the way. If they become defensive or shut down the idea entirely, be flexible in finding a next step that everyone can agree on to keep things moving. Perhaps that’s putting a short-term safety measure in place, making plans to visit an assisted living community to learn more, or simply setting a time to talk again in the future.

At Oaks Senior Living, we understand the need for support before talking to parents about assisted living. For more information, see our Tips for Talking with Mom and Dad or contact us today to learn about our “person-directed lifestyle” approach to assisted living.

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