Assisted living facilities are a great asset for both aging adults and their families. They provide a safe and supportive living environment for older adults who need more care than can be provided in their homes. Most assisted living communities have memory care units attached, and a few have independent living sections as well.
Many older adults resist the idea of moving to an assisted living facility. This is often due to misconceptions about what these facilities are actually like. However, this resistance is more complicated than that.
If you want to talk with your parents about assisted living, it is important to be aware of the many feelings they may have about the idea of moving.
Tips on How to Talk to Your Aging Parents About Assisted Living
When you are considering whether or not to put your aging parent in assisted living, try to think about it from their perspective. If you were in their position, what would be important to you? Probably some of the same things as what are important to you now - like less caregiving responsibilities, feeling safe, and having access to good food.
All of these are valid. But if it were you who had to move, you might feel differently. You might be afraid of what would happen next or how you would feel. But if you follow our tips, it will be easier for you.
1 Acknowledge your parent’s autonomy
People have the right to make bad decisions. This is something you need to accept from the beginning. When you talk to them, remember that they have been adults for a long time. It can be hard for them to give up their independence.
You and your parents may not agree on everything. You might disagree about the need for assisted living. But you can still reach an agreement by talking, listening, and respecting one another's feelings.
2. Help them make assisted living their idea
It is best to help your parents as early as possible. You can make plans now for when their needs will increase, and you can discuss the various options available. This way, when they need a decision made, you will already have a plan in place.
Another approach is to explain your concerns about how they are doing. For example, you might feel overwhelmed as a caregiver, or find the professional care coming into the home too complicated and expensive to manage.
Talk to your parents about what they want and what they need. This will help you figure out the best way to help them. There might be other senior living options that can help them before they go to assisted living. Talking about this will make your parents feel like they have some control over their lives.
3. Be honest and straightforward
It's tempting to think that you can trick your parents into assisted living, but this is usually not successful.
This approach might not work for you and could damage your relationship. So a better idea is to be honest and transparent about what you see as the need for assisted living. They might get mad, but it will likely be temporary.
4. Remember, you are still the child
It is not good to tell your parent what to do or suggest that you know best. You can still have a kind of parent-child relationship even if you are older.
Showing some respect for your parents and letting them make their own decisions will help you in discussions.
5. Visit several assisted living/senior living communities
You can dispel myths about assisted living communities by visiting a few of them. Suggest to your parent that you visit two or three communities so you can see what they are like.
Ask the admissions coordinator to show you around and have lunch. You can ask about the activities that are going on, which is a big part of why people come here.
6. Get your siblings involved
Ask your family to help you figure out what you want. Make sure that your parents like this idea.
You don't want to feel like you are the only one who is fighting this battle. Even a family meeting might be helpful to talk about problems and come up with a plan.
7. Be in charge of your emotions
Your parents may not see the situation as urgent as you do. You should stay positive and try to communicate with them in a calm way.
If you are angry or frustrated, this might make your parent resistant to what you are saying. Take some deep breaths and try to approach the discussion calmly and clearly.
8. Expect to have several conversations
You need to have a lot of conversations with your parents about assisted living. They will want time to think about it and get used to the idea. Give them time.
Make sure you are prepared for your parents to be resistant at first. However, try not to overreact if they get a little heated. Stay calm and remember that you can always come back another day to continue discussions after people have calmed down.
9. Be aware of their concerns
Talk to your parents. Ask them what they are worried about when it comes to assisted living. Once you know what their fears are, take them seriously. They may seem small to you, but they can drive the resistance for aging adults and their parents. One fear that may not come up in conversation is that of becoming dependent and helpless.
Once you know what their concerns are, tell them about it. For example, if your parents worry about what they can take with them to assisted living, reassure them that they can get a storage unit for items they may not be able to take. You have to be ready for some hard decisions too. It is okay to let go of some sentimental things in this situation.
Assisted living facilities provide a lot of privacy for their residents. Residents can always go to their apartments if they want some privacy. However, it is important to remember that there are many benefits to living in an assisted living facility. These include less responsibility for household chores, more opportunities for social interaction, and access to many different activities. Additionally, most assisted living facilities provide transportation for their residents.
How NOT to Talk to Your Aging Parents About Assisted Living
There are some things you should not talk about when talking to your parents. If you do, then just start over and focus on something else. You can do this because no one is perfect. Make sure that you write down these tips so that they will help for next time!
10. Don’t be a dictator
Even though your parents depend on you, you can't tell them what to do. They are not children, so don't treat them like they are.
Asking questions is better than giving orders. It is good to ask, "Would you like to see some assisted living communities this week?" instead of just telling them that you are going to visit them on Friday. Giving your parents a choice respects their autonomy and empowers them to make their own decisions.
11. Don’t be threatening
Threats are abusive because they make someone feel emotional pain. It is better to explain the consequences of decisions in a kind and caring way.
The difference is the intention. If your parent does not want to live in assisted living, help them understand what their decision means.
12. Don’t give ultimatums
Threatening someone is like saying that you will do something bad to them if they do not do what you want. Sometimes, after a crisis, you will have to make choices that your parent does not like. It is better to explain the different choices that are available to them in a way that makes them feel like they can still make decisions about their care.
Assisted living may be the only viable option for safety and the level of care required. Saying something like, "if you don't make a decision, I will never speak to you again," is damaging and harmful. Again, consider explaining the consequences of any decision. This can be much easier in a hospital setting because you have health professionals who will have no problem making recommendations based on what is best for you.
13. Don’t abandon them
You might be mad, frustrated, and upset. It is normal to want to walk away from your parents when they make decisions you don't like. But you should not abandon them because of this. If you are the primary caregiver for your parents and do not like their decisions, it would be wrong of you to leave them behind. You need to continue caring for them or replace that care with something else if possible.
In the meantime, do not forget to take care of yourself. It is hard to deal with parents who refuse assisted living. Take care of yourself by doing things that make you feel better such as talking with other people or taking a break from the situation for a while.
Conclusion: Talking to Your Parents About Assisted Living
If you need to talk to your parents about assisted living, it might be tough. You should plan for a series of conversations that are respectful and understanding. In time, you will all hopefully reach a decision that is based on mutual understanding.
A primary source for material used in this article is from Joincake.com
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Steve Schafer is the founder of TheEulogyWriters and is probably the most prolific eulogy writer (and, no doubt, the best) anywhere. He lives in Michigan and has been writing eulogies for well over thirty years. The articles in this blog are designed to help people through the process of losing loved ones.