Talking to Your Parents About Assisted Living

Looking after your loved ones

Talking to your parents about moving to an assisted living facility can be daunting and stressful. Many elderly ones resist this conversation and move because they don’t want to leave their home or lose their independence. You may be avoiding this conversation as well because you may fear your parent’s reaction and don’t want to face the reality of their situation. However, it is important that you prepare for this move to assisted living (if that’s what they need) before a crisis. These tips can help you discuss the move to assisted living with your parents in a way that doesn’t result in accusations and anger.

1. Make it a process instead of “the talk”. Before your parent reaches the point of needing an assisted living facility, begin the process of talking to them about it. You can discuss the future with them in a non-threatening way by asking what their wishes are regarding their care. Instead of ganging up on your parent with “the talk,” you can make it an ongoing discussion of opinions and options. If the time comes for your parent to move to an assisted living facility, it will already be an open topic of discussion.

2. Control your tone and watch your words. Speak in a positive and upbuilding manner to diffuse potential frustration and anger. Use words like community or condo rather than facility or rooms. Focus on the opportunities and social activities instead of the doctors and medications. Speak in a tone of voice that is calm, quiet, and pleasant. If your parent feels he is not being heard, he may speak louder or shout. Do not respond loudly or you will end up in a shouting match. Listen and validate your parent’s feelings. Make sure he knows that the final decision is his. This will help your parents feel in control and calmer about the situation.

3. Find out what they want. If both your parents are alive, tactfully speak with them about possible future events, such as one of them dying or needing to sell the house. It can be difficult and sad to discuss these things, but getting your parents’ wishes on the matter will help you if the situation arises to handle it in the best way possible. This will also show to your parents that you value their feelings and want to give them the best care possible.

4. Be understanding. Understand your parents’ feelings on why they are resistant to moving to an assisted living facility. Many people feel that they are going there to die. It is difficult to face your own mortality. It may also be difficult for your parent to face their changing role with you. It can be hard for them to accept that you are now taking care of them instead of them taking care of you. Moving to an assisted living facility can also mean a loss of independence and leaving a home they may love. Keep these concerns in mind and be empathetic to their feelings. Give them the ability to make as many decisions as possible regarding where, how, and when they will receive additional care.

5. Learn about the options. Do your research and find out the different types of senior living communities. If they are healthy enough, you can bring your parents with you to tour different facilities. Figure out the costs for different places in your parents’ area. Although it may be a private topic for your parents, try to discuss with them their financial situation. You will need to help them figure out what they can afford. It would also be a good idea to research different funding options, such as Medicaid or long-term care insurance.

6. Understand their illness. If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or another disease, take the time to research the progression of their illness or speak with their doctors. This can help you understand how the illness will impact your parents’ ability to stay at home. Ask the different senior communities how they will provide for your parents’ needs and what services they offer.

While discussing the move to an assisted living facility can still be daunting and stressful, applying these tips can help the discussion to go as smoothly as possible.

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