One of the more difficult conversations for adult children is how to talk to parents about assisted living. Very often, an aging parent is the last one to recognize or admit they need more help and that living alone is no longer safe or prudent. So what’s the best way to approach this candid talk — and how does an adult child know when it’s the right time to have it?
This article will provide some insight into how to convince a parent to go to assisted living and some of the best ways to broach the subject.
Understanding the Signs
Adult children who’ve been in this situation will tell you not to wait to have “the talk.” It’s best to broach the subject before there’s real pressure to make tough decisions. That said, it’s important to recognize that the physical, mental and emotional changes that come with aging are often subtle. If you notice any of the following, knowing how to talk to parents about assisted living in a compassionate way will be especially important.
For example, you may notice a parent is less tidy when it comes to picking up after themselves, or you see them wearing the same clothes repeatedly with no signs they’ve been laundered. Perhaps they stop socializing as they once did, with card games and lunches being canceled. A parent may begin to neglect their hygiene or even stop primping as they once did. Or the food you had delivered never gets eaten. These are all valid reasons for concern — and for exploring the option of assisted living with Mom or Dad.
This is not a time to feel guilty. When these signs appear, you may try to fill in the care gaps yourself by stopping by regularly to take care of chores and even help with a parent’s personal needs. But you need to be realistic. This kind of care is not sustainable for you, nor should it be. In assisted living, your mom or dad will have attentive aides who are trained in tasks involving activities of daily living (ADLs) like bathing, dressing, toileting, helping with prescriptions and more. With those needs taken care of, you and your loved one can have the freedom to enjoy the simple pleasure of being parent and child. You both deserve that.
Tips for the Big Talk
Two words to keep in mind anytime you introduce the subject of moving to an assisted living community are compassion and respect. While these frank talks are important and shouldn’t be put off, remember your parent is still a person with feelings, dreams, and a deep need to live an independent life. Their opinions and desires matter, and they deserve to be a part of the decision experience.
Here are six simple tips for how to talk to parents about assisted living in a way that will be sensitive to their feelings and desires. Use them to help reach the mutual decision that moving to an assisted living community will enhance your mom or dad’s life and help them remain independent much longer:
- Talk early and often, and keep it casual: Before the need arises or you notice any of the signs mentioned above, have informal chats with your parent about senior living. Casually discuss your parent’s vision of how they would cope if their health changed.
- Understand the need for multiple conversations: It’s likely no single conversation is going to convince your parent that a move is wise. Once a week, ask a few open-ended questions, and just listen. Write down your thoughts, and take time to work up to the tough talks. Keep your reasoning logical. If it gets too emotional, let it go and discuss things another time.
- Be positive rather than pushy: Refrain from pressuring your mom or dad, and instead use positive reinforcement. A lot of your success is in the delivery. Rather than saying, “Dad, at your age, you just can’t do this by yourself anymore,” say, “Dad, you’ve done it all, all your life … a little help would take some of the pressure off, and you deserve that.”
- Point out the plusses: “Mom, it would be great to be served delicious meals instead of having to cook yourself every night.” Emphasize the ease of having a social life, classes, and activities right outside their door. No worrying about paying bills, making home repairs, etc. Instead, they can live carefree with wonderful help anytime they need it.
- See things first hand together: Plan a few casual visits together to nearby assisted living communities to see what life would be like. Arrange to have lunch in the dining room to get a feel for the atmosphere, and make the experience special.
- Find out who’s already made the move: A decision like moving to assisted living seems easier when a parent knows some of the folks who are already residents. Those people will be the best ambassadors to help you make your case. Ask friends, colleagues and others to see if they have a loved one at a nearby assisted living community.
Your Parent Will Flourish at Fellowship Village
When you and your loved one are ready to explore assisted living options, we hope you’ll visit Fellowship Village. As New Jersey’s premier life plan community, Friendship Village offers Mom or Dad the chance to enjoy living in a private apartment in Assisted Living or in an Independent Living or Skilled Nursing home. They will receive superb personalized care — as well as a host of upscale lifestyle choices with the goal of helping your loved one live life to the fullest. We look forward to meeting you and showing you around! Call us at 908-580-3824.