Talking to your aging parents about assisted living can be incredibly difficult. Although you and even they may have noticed that they’re needing more and more help to live in their home, the idea of moving into a “nursing home” is something that many older seniors want to avoid. Because it’s mistakenly believed that assisted living will mean that they’re no longer “independent,” your parents may stubbornly avoid bringing it up or refuse to discuss the subject if you broach it.
“The truth is that assisted living can be a huge help that can allow your senior parents to live a more independent life,” says Ann Zak, Executive Director of Chatham Place at Mary Wade, New Haven County’s newest senior living community. “Because the focus is on providing assistance with daily living when it’s needed and giving your loved one more opportunities to do the things he or she can do, your parents have more time to socialize, participate in activities, and do other enjoyable things instead of trying to run a household and remain safe.”
Unfortunately, Ann says, too many people postpone this conversation because it’s “too hard.” This can lead to a situation where an accident or medical emergency forces the conversation, which can result in hasty decisions and a much more stressful transition for your parents and yourself.
“Although it can be hard to start the conversation, the best thing to do is to broach the topic of moving to assisted living well before your parents actually need it,” Ann explains. “That way, the anxiety, and uncertainty of the situation can be worked through, making it easier for you and your parents to find a solution that everyone feels good about. This will make the transition so much more comfortable and even enjoyable.”
Ann says that it’s best to think of the conversation as more of a series of conversations. “This is a big decision, and you won’t be able to work through it in one sitting,” she says. “Instead of just jumping into the big discussion, try to slowly bring up the topic and allow them the opportunity to do their own research and thinking. That way, your parents will have much more control over the situation, which will give them more autonomy in the decision-making process.”
If you are having trouble bringing up the topic of assisted living with your parents, here are some tips to make the conversation easier.
Tips For Speaking With Your Parents About Assisted Living
Research available options before beginning a conversation.
Take some time to research different assisted living communities before bringing up the topic with your parents. Having a better understanding of what’s available in a particular area, as well as the services and amenities they provide, can help you better explain and potentially educate your parents during a discussion. You can also get a clearer picture of what the community costs might be and what options are available for payment. Being able to speak to actualities instead of hypotheticals can help everyone base their decisions on actual facts and avoid any surprises.
Have the conversation in a series of discussions.
By bringing up the idea of assisted living early and turning it into “discussions” instead of one big conversation, you and your parents can better have a nonthreatening and nonconfrontational talk about things. The most important thing is to begin the discussion the right way. You may want to bring up things you’ve noticed that they need assistance with, and ask them what you would like to do to help them out.
If they don’t yet need extra help, start a conversation by asking what their wishes are for the future. By asking them ahead of time, you can be sure you are honoring their wishes while still coming up with a plan for their future that can become harder to talk about as time goes on.
Be mindful of your language and tone.
Once the topic of assisted living has been brought up, make sure that you set the right tone. Don’t use words that come across as criticism, sound condescending, or have a negative connotation. Try stating your concerns positively and respectfully so that your parents don’t shut off from the conversation or begin arguing. It can help to highlight the various activities and carefree lifestyle that they could enjoy at an assisted living community, as opposed to using words like facility or nursing home.
Most importantly, let your parents know that the decision is ultimately theirs, and you are there to provide support and assistance as much as possible.
Put yourself in their shoes.
It can be quite frustrating when your parents are reluctant to talk about assisted living. However, it is important to think about it from their point of view and try to understand their concerns and worries. Respect their feelings and avoid trying to strongarm them into any decisions, as this will only cause frustration and confrontation. Try to get your parents to talk about what they are feeling and why they want to remain at home.
Many times, it’s simply because they want to maintain their independence. It’s important to help them see that moving to assisted doesn’t mean that they become less independent – in fact, they may become more independent thanks to the worry-free and supportive lifestyle they’ll receive in assisted living.
If health or safety is at risk, you may need to push the issue.
If the home in which your parents are living is no longer appropriate or safe, or they can no longer do the things they used to be able to do, you might need to talk about assisted living a little more often and a little more firmly. If your parents’ everyday activities are affected by their health problems, such as being unable to drive safely or can’t pay their bills on time, it may be time to consider different options sooner rather than later.
Tour some communities with them.
If your parents are open to the idea, consider going on some tours of assisted living communities with them – letting them know that no decision has to be made immediately. Giving them the chance to actually see a community and experience what it’s like on-site can help them feel a little more grounded than just thinking about “a community” in a general sense.
If possible, look for communities with a wide variety of services, amenities, living options, and locations. Allowing your parents to experience the lifestyle that assisted living can give them the right amount of push that they need to make the move, and make it happily.
Chatham Place at Mary Wade – Now Pre-Leasing!
Chatham Place at Mary Wade provides full-spectrum senior care with a holistic approach. Providing assisted living and memory care options, our devoted team of caregivers and specialists are committed to providing one-on-one, personalized care in a warm and supportive environment while also receiving the best care in the country. Our philosophy of personal service and gentle care remains steadfast and resolute, just as it was at our founding in 1886.
Opening in late summer 2021, Chatham Place will offer exceptional senior living options in a warm and inviting atmosphere. This new, state-of-the-art community will have 84 apartments designed to meet today’s safety, security, and comfort standards. As part of the Mary Wade campus, we will continue the legacy of exceptional service, truly resident-centered care, and access to world-class healthcare services.
For more information, please call (203) 423-3293.