Broaching the topic of assisted living with your aging parent or other family member can be tough. Many senior citizens view such a move as a major loss of independence, and will stubbornly refuse to even consider the possibility that assisted living may be the best option for them. Because of the delicacy of this topic, many family members will tip toe around it or avoid it altogether. However, it’s important that you have these open, honest, collaborative conversations with your aging loved ones so that the idea of moving to assisted living does not seem quite so daunting. The following tips can help you have these discussions in a way that’s healthy and relaxed, rather than tense and filled with fear and frustration.
Do Your Research First
Before you start talking to your aging loved one about their long-term care needs, you should have plenty of information regarding the different types of assisted living facilities and housing options in the area. One of the reasons that many senior citizens have an adverse reaction to these conversations is that they view assisted living facilities as nursing homes—but in reality, the two are quite different. Do your research so that you can understand the level of care provided at various care facilities (and ensure you’re finding the right level of care for your loved one). This will allow you to have an informed discussion about how such a facility can meet their needs while still allowing them to retain an appropriate level of independence based on their health.
Broach the Subject Early
As we already mentioned, some family members tend to avoid this topic because of how sensitive it can be. However, it is far better to broach this subject early on, when your parent or other loved one is still capable of living independently. Talk about what they want to do when their mobility begins to decline, or if they’re diagnosed with a condition like Alzheimer’s or dementia. This allows the topic to be introduced in a no-pressure way, rather than it being a topic you have to discuss and make a decision about right now due to seriously declining health.
Sit down somewhere comfortable and casual, like at the kitchen table as you have a cup of coffee. Say something like, “I know this can be hard to talk about, but I want to make sure you’ll always be cared for. We don’t have to make a decision right now, but I want to talk about it so we can think about the future and keep our options in mind.” The sooner you can have these discussions, the easier they will be.
Always Keep Them Involved
The fear of losing independence is a genuine one that you should be sensitive to. Keep in mind that your loved one deserves to be involved in these kinds of decisions; it’s their life, and they should have a say in where they live and what care they receive. Let them join you in touring care facilities, if they’re well enough to do so. Ask them what kinds of amenities are important to them. By keeping them involved in this decisions, they will be less likely to feel as if their independence and their choice is being taken from them.
Always Maintain a Positive Attitude
This can be a frightening change for your loved one, and your attitude can make a huge difference. While we recognize this is a stressful decision for you too, it’s important that you maintain a positive mindset. Approach this as an exciting opportunity for your loved one—more like house hunting than searching for medical care. Talk about the great amenities, the community and activities, the social opportunities, and other aspects of the facility that aren’t related to personal care. Bear in mind that your loved one might not feel that they need care, so focusing on the other aspects of the assisted living community can help them to redirect their focus.
Use positive language, and a calm tone of voice. Even if your loved one seems to only have negative things to say about the facilities you visit, do your best to listen to and validate their feelings. Never respond with anger, and don’t dismiss their opinions. Always set a positive tone to these discussions, and they’ll be more likely to respond positively as well.
Start from a Place of Love
Above all, start every conversation on this topic from a place of love. Emphasize that you’re not recommending a long-term care facility because you don’t want to take care of them, or because you don’t think they’re capable. Let them know that it’s because you want them to be safe, well cared for, and part of a community where they can make new friends. When you come from a place of love, these conversations can be much easier to have than you imagined.
If you and your loved one are ready to tour assisted living facilities in Daytona Beach, we invite you to contact The Sarah House today to schedule your visit.