Most people do not look forward to change. Older parents may not have realized that the time has come for additional support in a communal environment. However, “the talk” can go well and open up a discussion about coming needs and concerns. It is possible to have a productive and non-confrontational discussion with parents about the possibility of assisted living. Keep these considerations in mind before entering into any potentially sensitive topic.
Talking to Your Parents About Assisted Living
- Get on the same page with siblings or affected family members.
Sit down and talk about plans for parental care with brothers, sisters and even the spouse of the specific parent. Each person may have something different in mind. Settle disagreements between members of the group before broaching the topic with the intended parent. A social worker or unbiased third party may help create consensus when a healthy discussion is not possible.
- Have the talk before it is necessary.
Choose a time when family members are relaxed and happy. Supporting parties should be aware that the topic will be discussed. Open up the dialogue and see how people feel about various options available. Parents can even surprise you and suggest an assisted living option themselves in order to reduce any perceived caregiving burden on children. The objective is to create a healthy dialogue on the topic.
- Be patient.
You may not achieve your aim on the first try. Discussions on aging and need for additional care in the future can scare parents. If parents become distressed or agitated on the first attempt, let them know that you are there to support their needs and will talk to them about it again when they feel more prepared. Open the door to communication and share that when they are ready to discuss their plans, you are prepared to listen.
- Discuss the financial consideration involved with assisted living.
Find out more about your parent(s) current financial situation. Do they have a plan for long-term care and what is their budget for living expenses and general healthcare needs? Some parents may not readily share these details and a financial coach or planner can help families locate local services and review future financial plans with parents and designated parties.
- Use resources to prepare for sensitive discussions.
Locate the information that you need to understand the available options and most effective approach on a desired topic. The AARP, National Council on Aging, American Seniors Housing Association, and Assisted Living Federation of America can provide suggestions based on research and experience. Take time to relax and enter into a discussion in a calm frame of mind. Do not be afraid to role play with a family member or friend to work on what you want to say and how you might respond to different types of questions or situations.