First off, many families have yet to be inside today’s very modern assisted living facilities. They completely cater to the residents.
Without question this is the most difficult conversation to have with an aging parent. All parties resist having this conversation: parents, because they feel they are being forced out of their home thereby losing their independence and children, afraid of hurt feelings and reactions.
But, if you are prepared the conversation is a walk in the park and removes a lot of the anxiety surrounding it.
Start early. We advocate having “The Talk” before you need too. This alleviates the inevitable “the kids are running my life” to one of a “buy- in” transition process. At this stage you aren’t deciding anything; rather, you are trying to flush out objections to a possible move down the road.
Understand why they want to stay at home. 80% of seniors 75 years and over want to age in place in their own home. They may never say it but most know deep down that if they make a move it will be their last. Plus, there is a real shift of them having taken care of you to you now, taking care of them. For example, can care be brought to the home to help them with everyday tasks such as shopping, cleaning, house chores, etc? Ask your parents what kind of help they would like.
Current health status. Do they have a progressive illness that will require different levels of care as they age? Dementia and Parkinson’s may impact their ability to consider an Assisted Living Facility. Engage their physicians early to determine next steps.
Look for a teachable moment that will support “The Talk.” Was there a recent fall or some other mishap that occurred where safety is now a major concern? If so, talk to your loved ones about it and the potential consequences if it happens again.
Suggest visiting a variety of Assisted Living Facilities in their area. If that suggestion falls flat….wait for another day.
Remember, unless they have been ruled incompetent you can’t make them move anywhere or do anything.
Finally, transition is a process and requires patience and time. We don’t know what it feels like at their age; we aren’t there yet. Be mindful of this and be gentle in your approach.