Figuring out the best way of talking to parents about senior living can be challenging, particularly if it’s something you’ve never discussed before. But with most aging seniors needing some level of care in their retirement, having a conversation early on is useful.
By planning ahead and exploring care options while your parent is able to be involved in the process and make decisions, you can develop a plan for their future that will make them happy while giving you the peace of mind you need.
Your parent or relative might struggle to talk about the possibility of moving into assisted living, even if the move would not happen until later in life. The thought of losing some of their independence, paired with unhelpful common misconceptions about senior living communities could make them resistant to even considering supportive care as an option.
If you’ve begun noticing signs that they might benefit from expert care, it may be time to prepare to have a conversation with them. Here’s how to talk to your loved one about assisted living and ensure they get the most from your discussion.
Before the Conversation
- Think about why you believe assisted living might be beneficial. If you have started having some concerns about your parent or loved one’s ability to live happily and safely in their own home, write a list of things to discuss with them. For example, you may have noticed they are struggling to keep up with hygiene and grooming, or perhaps they are feeling isolated, losing weight or not eating well. Think about how assisted living could help them with the issues they are facing.
- Research assisted living options you think they might like. If they have never researched assisted living in Texas themselves, their vision may be clouded by preconceptions of what residential care looks like. Find a few facilities that you think may appeal to them and have some information at the ready. Think about what specific concerns your loved one might have and find out how these facilities address them. For example, if you think your loved one might be worried, they will lose their autonomy, look for assisted living facilities that emphasize the importance of supporting the independence of their residents.
- Plan the conversation. Of course, the discussion will flow naturally and it’s important to allow this to happen, but having an idea of what you need to address and the points you would like to cover is useful. When navigating a difficult conversation, it’s easy to downplay things or forget important issues, so writing down these key talking points beforehand may be beneficial.
During the Conversation
- Find a good spot to talk. Talking face to face is always a good idea for any potentially emotional conversation and finding the best location to speak to your loved one about assisted living will depend on their personal situation. If they live alone, chatting in the comfort of their home might be best, or if they enjoy the outdoors, why not go for a stroll? If you live a distance away and meeting up in person is not possible, try to block out some time for a video call, rather than speaking with them over the phone.
- Make sure they don’t feel rushed. Whether it’s one long conversation, or a series of shorter chats, making this decision isn’t likely to be quick or easy for your loved one. Allow them as much time as they need to absorb the information, think about things and arrive at their own conclusion. Even if you’re worried about them and are keen to get things moving sooner than later based on their needs, recognize the importance of them feeling confident and settled in their decision and allow them time to do their own research.
- Speak to them earlier rather than later. The earlier you start talking to your parents or loved one about residential assisted living, the more time they will have to do their own research and really figure out what they want. Waiting for a big health concern like a fall or illness could lead to them feeling rushed or unprepared. This also increases the risk of having to ‘make do’ with a facility they’re not 100% happy in. Broaching the topic earlier rather than later is almost always beneficial in the long run.
- Actively listen and allow them to voice their concerns. You may have already decided how you want the conversation to go and what you think the best options are for your loved one, but be aware that they may have a range of concerns or questions you haven’t considered. Allow them to lead the discussion and encourage them to voice their own thoughts.
- Tell them what assisted living could add to their life. A common concern seniors have when presented with the option of assisted living is a lack of independence and ability to live life as they please. Use your prior research to explain how the community works to ensure they receive the support they need while also promoting independence. Additionally, share how the move could expand their horizons and create brand new opportunities. For example, you could talk about the rich social community in a particular facility, or the exciting range of classes and groups available on-site. Stress how moving to an assisted living community like Argent Court means no more worrying about chores, transportation, and grocery shopping (or whatever tasks they dislike or struggle most with).
It can be difficult to know how to talk to your loved one about residential assisted living, but a little planning and preparation and a good listening ear really do go a long way. Tackling this early on can grant you and your loved one some much-needed peace of mind and an increased confidence in what the future holds.