It’s not a conversation that anybody wants to have. Your parents won’t want to talk about moving into an assisted living community because it feels like a huge blow to their independence and children don’t want to talk to their parents because they aren’t sure how they will react and it’s not easy to acknowledge that your parents are getting older.
The truth is that a lot of assisted living communities can offer your parents a much better quality of life than they could hope for if they stayed in their home. They will have all of the care they will need both physically and for their social and mental health needs.
It’s important that you start talking to your parents about assisted living as early as possible and not wait until a health crisis makes the conversation a necessity.
Talk with them about what they would like to happen in certain situations, such as if one of them dies or becomes disabled. These aren’t pleasant conversations to have, but having them early can remove a lot of the anxiety and urgency from the situation. It will give everyone the space and time that they need to think things through.
It also gives you the time to have multiple ongoing conversations, rather than one huge and intense conversation, which can leave your parents feeling as though you are ganging up on them.
Begin your research on what care options are available early. When people think about assisted living they often picture some institutional nursing home, but in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. When you are researching available options, it’s a good idea to bear in mind any specific health conditions that your parents may have and if there are any specialist services that they need for support.
The available options generally come in three levels:
- Independent living communities. Residents will maintain their independence and care is available at differing levels dependent on needs. Residents will often be encouraged to take part in community activities to help them to remain social and engaged in their lives. A good example of an independent living community is https://www.belmontvillage.com/
- Assisted living facilities. These facilities are designed for people who can no longer live in their own home without assistance. They need help with activities like taking medications, bathing, toileting or getting dressed. Residents will live in their own apartments and staff will be on hand 24 hours per day.
- Skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes). This type of facility is designed to provide 24 hour care to people who have conditions that require constant monitoring. Because of the high level of care needed, these are the most restrictive options.
The most important thing you can do is keep your parents involved at every stage of the research and decision-making process. Remember that these are their lives and because there has been a shift in roles does not mean that you are now the parent or that you know best.
When talking about assisted living options, recognize the fact that your parents may be scared and so try to use positive language where possible. Highlight the community aspects and the activities they will be able to do, rather than anything that they may be losing.
Above all, listen to your parents concerns. Do not brush them off because they make you uncomfortable. A lot of the resistance to assisted living comes from the fact that people know it will likely be their last residence and so they can feel as though they are going there to die. This is a difficult transition for your parents and it’s important to acknowledge that.