Many caregivers dread talking with their parents or loved ones about assisted living, as most seniors like the idea of aging in place. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as many as seventy percent of seniors over 65 will need some type of long-term care in their lifetimes. Having "the conversation" can be tough, emotional, and even scary. But putting off the subject might leave you without any time for pre-planning. And approaching the topic of assisted living well before it's needed can help remove some of the anxiety and uncertainty, making it easier for all involved. If you're considering talking to your parents about assisted living (and you probably should be), here are a few tips.
If you have siblings, discuss plans with them first
The plan for your parents as they age might be different in your mind than from your siblings'. Make sure you all agree or find ways to discuss your disagreements before bringing the topic up with your parents. If differences are significant, and you can't have a healthy discussion, involve a social worker in your conversations. A neutral third party can often bring resolution.
Make it a topic of ongoing discussion
Approaching this subject early on while loved ones are still able to live safely in the community allows you the opportunity to discuss the future in a non-threatening, hypothetical way.
If you begin the process early enough, and you don't face decisions under duress, the topic of assisted living can be one you assess regularly.
Understand it takes time
Your loved ones may not want or be able to express this, but most know deep down that if they move to senior living, it is likely their final residence. Don't try to rush your loved one into an answer. Deciding to move into a senior living community is a big decision, so allow plenty of time for your parents to think it over before making a choice.
Keep them involved in the decision
Everyone wants to be able to choose where they live and what kind of care they receive. If they are healthy enough, ask your loved ones to join you in looking at facilities online, touring senior living communities, or talking with friends and relatives who have already made the move.
Do your homework
Before bringing up the topic, learn about the different types of senior living settings and the levels of care they provide.
Be ready to discuss finances
Do you know your loved one's financial situation? Have they planned for long-term care, or is there a fixed budget in place for daily living expenses? Personal finances are just that–personal, and delving into the checkbook, savings account, and investments–or lack thereof–may cause friction. If it's possible to involve a financial coach or expert, look into services in your area.
Be prepared with pros and cons
Maybe it's never having to mow a lawn or shovel snow again, having tasty, warm meals prepared each day, and meeting new friends or becoming involved in social activities or classes they'd given up. The safety of an on-site healthcare team might be appealing if declining health is an issue.
Research progression of illness
If your loved one has been diagnosed with a chronic medical condition, such as Parkinson's disease, dementia, or heart failure, learn about how it will progress. Certain age-related diseases can significantly impact a senior's ability to stay at home and/or make informed decisions about moving.
Share what you've learned from their doctor or through your research, and discuss how the services offered by certain long-term care settings could help them in six months, a year, etc.
Pine Haven is Happy to Help!
We would be more than happy to meet with you and your loved ones to discuss senior living.
Our communities offer a variety of senior living services ranging from independent living to memory care.