Planning on getting together with parents or other elder loved ones during the holiday season? It’s a great time to share stories, photos, and memories of special holidays. It also could be the right time to talk about their future. In fact, talking to parents about assisted living might be one of the greatest gifts you could give.
Senior Star’s assisted living communities bring the activities of daily living together with the support for whatever level of senior care services a resident needs—whether that’s help with tying a shoe, assistance standing up from a comfortable seat, or a reminder to take daily medication. We have put together some tips to help you start the discussion.
Tips for talking to parents about assisted living
- Pick the right time(s). Keep it casual. Maybe start by mentioning how the house has been a great home for years, but it’s beginning to show a bit of wear. Emphasize with them about how keeping it up can be a chore. Give your parents the opportunity to express how they are feeling about staying in their home. Don’t rush the conversation, and don’t push the topic if the timing isn’t right.
- Split it up. It’s best to not cover every point in one conversation. If you’re helping put up decorations, you can mention how that can get harder every year for anybody. Or if you are baking desserts, maybe ask Mom if she wouldn’t enjoy someone else serving her meals for a change…and no dishes to wash! You could walk around the yard with your Dad and share how you agree that yardwork becomes tedious, and ladders are dangerous.
- Involve other family members. Talking to parents about assisted living goes best when everyone is involved. Let other family members know you are having concerns and get their input. Find out if they’ve had any conversations with your loved ones. If not, suggest they also find ways to inquire if your parents are open to the idea of a move to a more carefree lifestyle.
- Ask your parents questions and listen to their answers. It’s possible Mom or Dad has been thinking about living in a setting where assistance is available. You might ask if they are feeling safe in their home. Do they wish they could get out more without having to drive? Are mealtimes becoming too routine or are they skipping meals? It’s possible they may not have considered that their daily needs would all be taken care of in an assisted living setting, freeing them to enjoy life again.
- Offer them information. Talking to parents about assisted living also means offering them information—when they are ready—about the advantages of a supportive lifestyle. Reassure them they will have the freedom to plan their day, socialize as they choose, exercise, dine regularly and come and go as they please, knowing a helping hand is available. Plus enjoy the comfort of a private apartment. At a Senior Star assisted living community, whatever their interests—art, fitness, volunteering, sports or all of these—they’ll find plenty of opportunities to pursue their passions and maybe find some new ones. Helping them see the positive side of a move can help ease the anxiety of change.
- Look for red flags. While you are visiting, pay attention to how your parents are living. Look for signs they might need a more supportive lifestyle. For example, expired foods in the pantry or very few items in the refrigerator. Empty medication bottles. Stacks of unopened mail. Cluttered hallways or rickety stairs that could be fall hazards. Note their appearance…are they maintaining good grooming? Do they seem confused or depressed? If they are still driving, check the car for any signs of recent dents or damage. If you see signs that give you pause, express your concerns for them and let them know you care.
- Visit assisted living communities. The holidays can be a great pressure-free time to gather the family and visit a few communities to give everyone an introduction into what life is like there. Meeting with staff, walking the grounds, having a meal, chatting with current residents—it all helps you and your loved ones decide what feels right. It also makes talking to parents about assisted living much easier.
In addition, you get the advantage of visiting a senior living community during a time when holiday decorations are up and the mood is bright—a great time to consider making it home.