The desire to stay in your own home and remain independent as long as possible is a strong one. Unfortunately, as we get older we eventually reach a point where this is no longer viable or safe. How can you convince a parent that it’s time to make a move to assisted living, where they can get the support they need, and help them see the transition as a positive one? Here are several tips for having this difficult conversation.
Enlist the help of a medical professional. If your parent is like most of us, he or she will have a sense of pride regarding the ability to care for him or herself. This is completely natural, and the idea that one can no longer do this is a severe blow. It is for this reason that seeking the opinion of their doctor or another healthcare provider they trust can help to add weight to your suggestions when discussing the potential move to an assisted living facility.
Avoid potentially condescending sympathy. It is important to realize that, despite any health complications that your parent may be experiencing, your sympathy is not what’s needed at this moment. Of course, it is always nice to have compassion for your parent. Yet discussing the move to an assisted living facility can elicit feelings of powerlessness, and providing heaping doses of sympathy could make matters worse.
Approach your parent with respect. Treat your parent as an independent person capable of making decisions and deserving of the same respect and considerations as anyone else. There are some situations where maintaining this tone could prove challenging. Diseases such as dementia can greatly impair your parent’s ability to process and understand what is happening, and may force you to take on a more guardian-like role in such cases. The underlying idea that you can still treat your parent with respect and value his or her preferences still applies more than ever.
Emphasize safety. The number one priority and guiding factor in all discussions and arrangements surrounding a parent’s move to an assisted living facility should be their health and well-being. The more that you can bring this point into focus, the better the transition process will likely be. If, for example, your parent has fallen several times while unsupervised, resulting in hospital stays and broken bones, reminding them of this in a gentle and understanding manner may help them see the logic in making this transition.
Above all, listen. Listening may be all you need to do to help your parent accept the idea of assisted living. It’s very possible that he or she will want to make the move, yet also feels a need to express all of his or her resentments and worries about doing so. By listening, you will help your parent feel more understood and will also help make him or her more receptive to your own feedback.
There is no simple and easy way to discuss assisted living care with a parent. The process can, however, be an opportunity for you two to grow closer as you share your thoughts and feelings about the matter in an open and non-judgmental atmosphere.