Talking to your older parent or aging loved one about long-term senior care options can be challenging. How do you know when the time is right? And what do you say to your parents to get the conversation started? Here’s a look at some signs your loved one shouldn’t live alone and some simple ways to start the conversation.
Recognizing the Signs That a Conversation is Necessary
If you’re unsure about when to start the conversation with your older loved one about moving to an assisted living community, you’re not alone. Some telltale signs that point to having a discussion include:
- Personal care, like bathing, dressing, and using the restroom, is becoming increasingly difficult.
- They are forgetting to take medications.
- They are experiencing dramatic shifts in behavior or mood.
- They have developed a new chronic illness or are losing weight.
- They are at risk of falling due to mobility issues.
- They are missing routine appointments or forgetting to pay bills.
- They are struggling to prepare meals or stock the refrigerator with food.
- They have become withdrawn or socially isolated.
Talking to Your Loved One
1. Talk earlier rather than later.
The best time to have a conversation about long-term care options with your elderly parent is before they actually need it. Ask them what they desire in a senior living community. Where would they want to live? What are their preferences for accommodations? When you’re on the same page, it will make the decision-making process a lot easier when the time comes to transition to an assisted living community.
Remember, your parent may be hesitant, or even fearful, about the idea of moving from their family home. By doing research ahead of time, you will be able to talk through and answer their questions and concerns. Waiting until there’s an urgent need for senior living care may create added stress and make the decision more difficult down the road.
2. Highlight the benefits.
When talking with your loved one, emphasize the benefits of assisted living, such as opportunities for new friendships, access to healthcare, chef-prepared dining options, and maintenance-free living.
Reassure them that assisted living is for older adults who want to continue enjoying an active, independent lifestyle, but need a little extra support with daily tasks. Encourage your loved one to keep an open mind and focus on the advantages that the new lifestyle change will provide, such as:
- Personalized care and attention
- Increased independence
- Opportunities to socialize and explore new hobbies
- No more home maintenance or upkeep
- Diverse dining options
- A variety of convenient services and resort-style amenities
3. Tour as many communities as possible.
By starting the conversation early, you can tour several communities, which gives your older loved one plenty of options. Visiting an assisted living facility is the best way to get a feel for what the community is like, ask staff members questions, talk to current residents, and so much more. Grab a bite to eat at the community’s dining room and preview an exercise class in the fitness center. The more you know about the community, the more confident you will feel in deciding which facility is the best place to call home.
4. Be patient.
Remember, moving to an assisted living community is a big decision. Give your loved one time to process the transition, think about the type of community they want to move to, and understand the benefits of moving to assisted living. It’s unlikely that they will come to a decision after one conversation. In fact, it is normal for them to resist the change. Set aside time to approach the topic again after your initial conversation and continue to approach the subject with sensitivity and compassion.
The Senior Living Experts—We’re Here for Your Family
Deciding to move a parent or loved one to assisted living is a big decision, but having the initial conversation is a good first step. Remember to be patient with your loved one, listen to their concerns, and always be empathic toward their situation. Start talking with your older loved ones now about a plan you both feel comfortable with.
At Senior Living Experts, our local advisors are here to serve you and your family in whatever capacity we can. We provide completely personalized guidance at no cost so that you can make the most informed decision for your loved one. Learn more and schedule a call with an advisor today.