Adult children are often involved in helping their parents make decisions about care needs. We are often asked the question, “How can I talk to Mom about moving to an assisted living?”
Starting the conversation early is so important. Many are fearful that these conversations will be uncomfortable even hostile. It’s best to be able to gently bring up the conversation multiple times. If the conversation isn’t started early, and a last second decision must be made, that only increases the chances the conversation will be uncomfortable.
The primary goal is to avoid emergency decisions and move-ins. This creates undue stress for Elders and their families.
Start talking, asking question and shopping for care options early.
Some families have always had open and candid conversations, there are many others that have been more reserved in talking about sensitive subjects.
Here are universal tips that may help ease the conversation with the goal of planning ahead and preventing last-minute emergencies.
These suggestions are based on asking open-ended questions.
It’s important to allow the Elder to make their own decision, knowing full well that you already think a move is imminent.
When an Elder is still cognitive, you cannot make them do anything, even if you are the Durable Power of Attorney.
Elders do have rights. It’s important to guide the conversation in order to allow healthy decision making on their part.
Strong-arming a parent will not work long term
A damaged relationship is not healthy for any family. Exhaust all possibilities to make it possible for the parent to make their own decision.
Never plan to ‘trick’ a parent into moving or thinking you can simply drop them off at an Assisted Living Community and the staff will take care of them. You can imagine the nightmare that creates. Sadly some families think that is the only way.
This ‘trick’ attempt damages the family relationship, and it damages the chance of a smooth transition.
It takes time and a lot of patience to get to a healthy decision.
These questions are based on a relaxed setting where the conversation could be about anything:
- Mom, is this house becoming a burden to you? Do you ever think about downsizing to something more manageable?
- Dad, do you notice any decline in your ability to live here at home? Do you have any concerns about cooking, cleaning and doing maintenance?
- Mom, are there some things you’d like to accomplish in the next few years. Can I help you with any plans?
- Mom, have you thought about where you’d like to be in 5 years?
- Mom, I worry about not knowing what your wishes are. Would you talk to me about what you want in case there is an emergency and you can’t make a decision on your own?
- Dad, are there times you feel lonely here at home? Would you like to have more company?
- Mom, as you look to the future what things concern you? Do you feel like you have a good plan for the future? Have you written any of those things down? I would be glad to help you get that in writing.
- Dad, what are your goals for the next chapter of your life?
Remember – the goal is to talk about the future
As always, listening and repeating what you hear them say is important.
Don’t argue, it will get you nowhere.
There are some great resources to share with parents that broach this subject. An excellent website is, https://www.whereyoulivematters.org/
The goal is to start a positive conversation and to be patient.
It can be good to invite another trusted friend, physician, or clergy to have this conversation with or without you present.
Offer the opportunity to go on a ‘shopping day” to look at retirement communities and have lunch out. It might be nice to invite a friend to go along.
Make it fun and non-threatening. Start this conversation early with the goal of early planning with no emergencies.
There is nothing easy about this transition but it can be the best chapter of life.
There are so many seniors that have very outdated ideas of what an Assisted Living Community in Kansas City looks like.
Most are thinking of an older nursing home that they may have visited years ago. These mental pictures are very sad and misleading. Modern advances in senior living are something brand new, only seeing will change their minds.
Getting a tour arranged is the first major feat. Then the conversations become more realistic as the Elder thinks about moving into an active, beautiful community with meals prepared and daily activities and with no home ownership worries.
Shopping Early is a Huge Advantage
By starting the conversation and the shopping early there is no pressure to think any decision has to be made quickly.
The conversation can focus on the future “if the need arises’. It is like having insurance for the future if the situation changes.
Most people live in denial about ever needing healthcare support but statistics say that more than 70% of all adults will need help at some time in their life. So the concept of being prepared makes sense while hoping you won’t ever need it.
If you are ready to schedule a tour for a loved one who is considering moving to an assisted living community, please contact the Piper today!