Conversations with parents about health care can be tough. No one likes to admit they need help with the activities of daily living, and many view moving to a senior living community as surrendering their independence. You may be putting off talking to parents about assisted living because you’re not sure how to broach the topic or are worried about how they’ll react. It’s common for families to postpone the subject of assisted living until an accident or medical crisis forces a decision under stress.
Prepare yourself with information before talking to parents about assisted living. Understand that assisted living is a care option for independent older adults, where they can get one-on-one help with activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, and taking medications correctly. The help is customized for what they need, when they need it, and allows them to keep familiar routines with confidence.
Keep in mind that when you’re talking to parents about assisted living, the right community can provide a better quality of life. Because they’re in a safe and secure environment, with 24/7 support in case of a health event, it also means peace of mind for you. In a Life Plan Community like Friendship Village, your parents will have their own private residence and an array of services and amenities, such as chef-prepared dining, to make life easier. They’ll be among fun, interesting people their age, in a culture that fosters friendship. An array of social, recreational, and educational programs means they’ll never be bored, and our wellness program gives them opportunities for spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being they might not have if they lived at home. If your parents want to stay active, independent and get the most out of retirement, assisted living can make that happen.
1. Don’t delay. If a parent is struggling with activities of daily living, don’t wait for a health crisis to force the issue. It’s more constructive to talk about it now without that added pressure.
2. Meet face-to-face. When talking to parents about assisted living, it’s important to do it in person or on a video call. Block out sufficient time to talk, preferably when you’re both well rested and relaxed, and don’t have to deal with distractions around you.
3. Be reassuring. Acknowledge this is a hard topic to discuss. Make it clear you’re not forcing them into a decision — or ganging up on them if other family members are present. Emphasize that everyone’s opinions will be heard, and their concerns discussed. Understanding how everyone feels will make things clearer and enable everyone to make appropriate plans.
4. Stay calm. Discussions like these can become emotional. Try to stay objective and focus on the facts. Set the example with a calm voice and demeanor to show you care, and you’re trying to understand their fears and frustrations.
5. Be brave. Know when you can ask tough questions when you’re talking to parents about assisted living. Ask them what would happen when their physical and mental capabilities change. How would they want to be cared for, and kept safe and financially secure? What would happen if they had a fall? Or needed emergency care? How would they cope with living at home if one of them passed away? Would they continue to stay where they are, downsize to a more manageable living space, or move to senior living? Learn how they want to achieve their plans.
6. Remember your objective. The point of this conversation with your parents is not to force them to do something they don’t want to do. It’s to honor their wishes, so you know exactly what to do.
7. Plan to talk again. Talking to parents about assisted living doesn’t end with one conversation. Keep the dialogue open. They may need more time to think about what’s been said and find the words to express how they’re feeling. Suggest they talk to their physician, spiritual advisor, or close friends for their opinions and advice. Unless a health crisis is imminent, this will likely be a series of conversations.
8. Follow up. Invite your parents to tour a community with you, or visit friends or relatives who have already made the move. Seeing the communities firsthand will dispel any misperceptions and alleviate their worries about moving. Talking to people who live there provides candid opinions about the community, and an idea of the lifestyle and neighbors they’ll have.
Your parents are used to making decisions for themselves. Moving to senior living while they’re healthy and active allows them to choose where they want to live and the kind of care they receive.
Share this video with your parents, and they’ll watch Friendship Village residents express how genuinely happy they are after moving here. Your mom or dad probably already knows their health is changing. Even if they’re still independent and social, they may benefit from a touch of daily help. And if you see early signs of memory loss, our assisted living community may be a good option.
At Friendship Village, we’re committed to helping your parents understand how assisted living services can benefit them, and make a smooth and happy transition into our assisted living community. Contact us for more guidance on how to have a productive conversation about assisted living, and to arrange a tour of our senior living communities.