Talking it Through
Normal dinnertime conversation does not include, “if you start to see me unable to safely live on my own, this is what I want to do…” Broaching the subject of moving a parent out of their current home and into some type of senior living arrangement is not easy—which is why there are several guides for how to begin the conversation. From brochures to websites to blogs and radio shows, many people have attempted to give individuals an outline for this conversation. Unfortunately, this is a discussion that many families put off until a crisis forces the issue.
Having a discussion about assisted living with your parents can be difficult, frightening, tense, and wrought with emotion—but it’s as important as “the talk” they once had with you when you were growing up. Their safety, security, and overall well-being could be relying on this discussion.
Remember, there is no formula that works for everyone as all situations and families are different .
Beginning the discussionFor some, setting a date and time to hold a family meeting will be the best way to start discussing a move to assisted living, while for others, the opportunity may present itself at a time when no one expected it (think sitting with your parents watching TV and a commercial for an assisted living community comes on). If you are considering discussing this topic with your loved one, be prepared at any time.
Listen, then talkWhile you may think your idea is the best idea, you need to listen to what your parent is saying. It’s quite possible that they’ve thought about different options and have their own list of pros and cons that you need to be aware of. Their input is vital to making this decision as easy as possible.
Make a ListThis list should include your concerns as well as your parents. Areas of concern should be:
- Health concerns
- Safety concerns
- Socialization concerns
- Expense concerns
You should also make a list of assisted living communities in the area and visit them.
Include Family Members in the DiscussionIf you’re able to schedule a family meeting to discuss this, it’s best to include all members of the immediate family. Best case scenario will have everyone on the same page with regards to the final decision though different family dynamics predict this will not always be the case. It is imperative to your parent or loved one that the decision being made is in their best interest and that their healthcare and safety needs are put first.
Consult with OthersYour parent or loved one’s healthcare provider could be your best advocate in making the best decision. Ask them how your loved one is doing and concerns they may see. Seek out the advice of a geriatric care manager. If you need help finding one, the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers—New England Chapter—may be a good place to start. http://www.gcmnewengland.org. Talk to someone you know whose parent or loved one has made the move to an assisted living community or better yet, talk to a resident of an assisted living community. Suggest a Trial Run
Many assisted living facilities allow for respite stays—temporary stays in the community—that are perfect for allowing a potential resident to “try-out” life at the facility. This will give both you and your loved one the opportunity to get used to the idea and the change before making any major decisions.
You are not the first person to have to deal with the emotions, issues, and challenges that come with caring for an elderly parent or loved one; yet it is new territory for you and your family. It sometimes takes a leap of faith to change a difficult situation for the better, to achieve a positive outcome. But when faith is supported by experience, honesty, common sense, and a willingness to face the issues, that leap need not be greater than a single step in the right decision.