When it comes to assisted living for aging parents, people have different feelings on the subject. Some see it as a welcome new beginning, others as a necessary inevitability, and for others it’s still a far-off option. No matter where your opinion lies, discussing assisted living with your parents can be a difficult prospect. Below, we’ve put together some advice on how to begin the conversation, and how to help make it a fulfilling one.
Talk Before It’s Needed
If you leave this article with only one idea, let it be this: Try to have this conversation before it becomes necessary. It can often take time to understand the idea of assisted living. Planting the seed of the idea with your parents—and giving it time to blossom is often a far more effective approach than approaching the conversation after you’ve already deemed assisted living necessary.
This is another important idea: This should be a conversation, meaning it’s give and take. Making a decision WITH your parents is different than making a decision FOR them, and it can drastically change the tone of your discussion.
When the conversation begins, it’s likely that your parents will be apprehensive. Just the idea of moving can be enough to cause anxiety. Try not to be frustrated if your parent begins with a tone of fear, or resistance, or even anger. Instead, try to really hear their fears, and to acknowledge, understand, and talk through them.
Visit and Meet Other Residents
There is a vision of assisted living of frail, patients and little daily engagement. The best thing you can do, for both yourself and your parent, is to visit an actual assisted living community. Seeing the wealth of independence and activity that actually take place in assisted living can change the conversation entirely. Even better, ask around to see if you know anyone with family in a senior living community, and ask if you could come by to visit them.
Make a Plan Together
When it comes time to start making visits and getting more information, involve your parent in the process as much as possible. Often, the conversation breaks down when parents feel as if they’re being dictated to or ordered around. What are some options? Which ones stand out to them? Have they heard about a place they’d like to visit? What amenities are most important to them? Make the search for assisted living something you do together. And again, doing this search before it’s necessary will go a long way. It can be easier to look at places without the pressure of an impending move.
Highlight the Benefits
There’s often a question of why. Why move to assisted living in the first place? Let your parent know why this is important to you, and why it can be a great opportunity for them. Many parents don’t realize the stress and fear their children have about their parents’ safety, well-being, and care, and how the move to assisted living can alleviate concern for everyone. Likewise, folks often think about what they’re losing, not what they’re gaining. Free from the concerns of cooking and cleaning, seniors in assisted living actually have time to enjoy themselves. It’s why assisted living communities have such robust activity calendars, and why seniors often find themselves happier and with more energy after moving in.