Talking about moving a parent to assisted living is never an easy conversation to have with the parent themselves or other family members. If he or she is no longer able care for his or her house or apartment, unable to prepare meals or manage his or her medications correctly, that is when the discussion is critical to his or her wellbeing. The conversation may be unpleasant and divisive for the family or a welcome relief for all involved. Thankfully, there are a few assisted living conversation tactics to keep in mind that will make the latter much more likely than the former.
Assisted Living Conversation Tactics
We know some people might not ever feel fully prepared to talk about assisted living with their loved ones, but there are a few things that will help the conversation go much smoother for all parties. We wanted to share our top 7 assisted living conversation tactics to help you feel as prepared as possible to initiate this discussion with your loved one.
1. Start Early
The general “what if?” conversations should start before a fall or illness make them urgent. The topic will be uncomfortable for both parent and children at first, but if the topic has been broached previously it will go smoother when the time comes.
When a decision must be made due to an urgent situation or simply a slow decline in their ability to fend for themselves, previous discussions smooth the way.
Not sure what signs to look for to know when to bring up the topic of assisted living? Read our blog post: 5 Signs Your Senior Loved One Should No Longer Live Alone. It's important to be honest with yourself so your loved one has the highest quality of life possible.
2. Seek Advice and Information
If your family is just pondering it, or it is time to make a decision about assisted living, ask around. Friends and co-workers of your age group are undoubtedly going through the same issues as you are facing. Do they have any referrals, tips, recommendations or cautions? Stop by those facilities and ones you’ve seen to pick up information about the facility itself – amenities, activities, pricing and care.
3. Present A United Front
There will be members of the family that will be resistant to the idea that their parent may no longer be able to care for themselves. If you are the primary caregiver, call a family meeting without the parent to present your case. As with the parent, starting the conversation earlier rather than in a crisis is the best way to handle this delicate issue. Make a pact that all discussions that are not in agreement should take place away from the parent. When it comes time to talk to your loved one, if all siblings are on the same page, it makes for a more pleasant conversation.
4. Be Sensitive
Some parents are relived to make the move to assisted living. They are ready to give up some of the everyday responsibilities of caring for their home and look forward to the social aspects of their new community and assistance in caring for themselves. And some are resistant – very resistant. Be sensitive to their feelings either way. This is a huge life changing event for them. Even if it is welcomed, change is difficult. Don’t be too quick to take over the leadership role. Be sure to involve them in as many discussions as you can to ensure a better transition.
5. Communicate Effectively
Elders are at the time in their lives when details may slip - or not. Either way, be cognizant of how your parent functions, remembers and learns new things. Give them information accordingly.
Some still have very sharp memories and you won’t have to tell them twice. And some will need to have a list of ideas, to-do’s and questions to make the shift more comfortable.
Communication is one of the most important components of helping your loved one find peace, comfort, and safety in their assisted living environment. For more information on the role of communication in the assisted living decision-making process, check out our blog post on the importance of family communication when it comes to memory care.
6. Patience is key
As you care for an elderly parent, patience is the first lesson you’ll learn. Be gentle with them as they make the transition from living independently to assisted living. Many things are affected during this time: independence, mobility, sadness at leaving their home, trepidation about new surroundings, new neighbors and much more. Although this process can be exhausting mentally and emotionally, patience is of upmost importance.
Although your roles have reversed and you are now becoming more responsible for your parents, they still deserve your respect. They have lived a long time, learned so much and made many sacrifices raising you and your siblings. Reassure them that you will do your best to respect their wishes and ensure their well being as they did yours as you were growing up.
Talking with your loved ones can be an easier conversation when you remember these seven assisted living conversation tactics. Have questions about Assisted Living communities in Tennessee, Georgia, or South Carolina? Contact Senior Solutions.