Family involvement and support can have a big impact on the aging experience of your parents. The research is clear that deep, meaningful relationships can have a positive impact on quality and longevity of life. But, when it comes to emotionally charged topics the line between being involved and meddling can sometimes seem blurred. One of the most emotionally charged topics for aging adults is the decision of whether or not to move into assisted living. It is emotionally charged because change can be scary and so can facing the future. Adult children are often desperate to help their parents with this big decision but struggle to know how involved to become in the process. There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this dilemma but there are a few questions that can help you get an idea of how involved you should be.
Are your parents capable of making this decision?
This can be a difficult question for adult children to ponder about their parents. But, assessing their ability to make a decision of this magnitude can help you determine how involved you should be in the process. In addition, the answer to this question can help choose the type of community. If your parents are more than capable of making this decision then assisted living is most likely a viable option. However, if their mental abilities have declined significantly, then you may need to look into places that can provide a higher level of care.
Have your parents asked you to be involved in this decision?
If your parents ask for your help in this process, then do not hesitate to be involved. It can take a lot of time and effort to adequately research assisted living as an option and to look at communities available in the area. If your parents asked for help, then be their advocate and sounding board throughout the process. Support them as they consider what they want their life to look like going forward.
Have your parents asked you to stay out of this decision?
Sometimes aging adults do not want the input of their children as they look into assisted living as an option. This is a difficult position to be in if you want to help your parents decide if assisted living is the best option. The best way to handle being in this difficult position is to respect your parents’ wishes but make it clear that you are available to help if they change their minds.
How involved are you capable of being?
Your ability to be involved in the process of looking into assisted living with your parents is dependent on your life situation. Physical distance, career and family demands can all get in the way of helping your parents sort through their options. You have to decide, based on the factors in your own life, how involved you can be. If you are unable to be involved in every step of the process then ask your parents where they need the most help. Maybe they can do the research but really want you to visit some communities with them. Showing up at the time they need it the most can be very helpful and mean a lot to your parents.
The fact that you are asking about how involved to be with your parents is evidence of your respect for them and concern for their wellbeing. You want to help them with this important decision but you also respect the fact that they can choose whether or not you are involved. Continue to express your support and willingness to help no matter how your parents decide to approach the process.