For many adult children, it’s difficult to admit that our parents are getting older, and it can be even harder for aging parents to accept that they need help. However, ignoring the warning signs will only put your loved ones at risk. To help you have “the talk” with your parents about needed lifestyle changes and the possibility of a senior assisted living community, here are a few tips.
Tips for Talking to Aging Parents about Assisted Living
Conversations about age-related changes and assisted living are never easy, but with preparation and patience, it’s possible to have a healthy discussion instead of one filled with frustration and anger.
Learn about the different types of senior communities and assisted living/enriched housing options in the area where you or your parents live or wish to relocate. Get details about the maintenance-free lifestyle offered and how the senior care services can make life easier for you and your parents. In fact, one effective way to start the conversation is to tell your loved one how the current situation is affecting you. Most aging parents are willing to accept outside help when they realize that doing so will actually lighten your load. Another way to initiate the discussion is by leading with your own long-term care wishes, or sharing an article or story about someone you know who has been faced with a long-term care decision.
Before you even broach the subject of assisted living, put yourself in your parent’s shoes. Remember that a move often means leaving a home where families have been raised and memories made. Many seniors resist the transition because they fear losing their independence, and although they may not express it directly, some of the resistance can be related to facing their own mortality. Even if they know that a senior living community is the best option, it’s not easy to acknowledge that this will likely be their final residence. If you keep this in mind, you will automatically speak to your loved one with compassion and patience.
Emphasize that a move to assisted living does not mean they have to slow down or give up control. Most seniors actually find that they have more time and energy for the things they enjoy because they are no longer burdened with housekeeping, maintenance and other chores. Refer to assisted living as a “community” rather than a facility, and “condo-style living” instead of rooms. Focus on the amenities and activities, or social connections and delicious chef-prepared meals, rather than doctors and memory care. If the stress of a move has your parents overwhelmed, reassure them that there are companies that specialize in senior moves, who can help transform a perceived negative event into a cause for reflection and celebration.
You can avoid prompting feelings of powerlessness and loss of control by keeping the lines of communication open. This should be a conversation, not a lecture. Your parents likely want to be able to choose where they live and the kind of care they receive. Allow your parents to talk and really listen. Make sure they feel like a participant, as opposed to a pawn. Be careful not to speak in a condescending tone. They are still your parents and should be treated with respect. If they are healthy enough to do so, ask your parents to join you in touring senior living communities, or encourage them to visit friends and relatives who have already made the move.
Keep the Conversation Going
While talking to parents about needed lifestyle changes can be difficult, it’s best to have these conversations before a crisis strikes. This allows you to have the discussion in a non-urgent, hypothetical way, and “the talk” becomes an on-going process where everyone’s opinions can be heard. Let your parents know that you understand that this is hard to talk about, but that you want to be sure that you honor their wishes. Once you do start talking, it only gets easier, and you’ll all enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that everyone is on the same page.
If you think it may be time to start researching assisted living options for your parents, we invite you to take a look at Eddy Senior Living. We offer independent, enriched housing and assisted living in Troy, Slingerlands, Niskayuna, East Greenbush and Queensbury, as well as Memory Care Communities in Cohoes and East Greenbush. Call us at 877-748-3339 or request additional information.