Tips for Starting a Family Discussion About Assisted Living

As your parents age and deal with increasing medical issues, you and your siblings may want to begin a discussion about the possibility of moving to an assisted living facility.

It’s not an easy discussion to start. Your parents are probably comfortable in their home and feel they don’t need the extra assistance that is provided at a retirement-type community.

But as their children, you probably see things differently and want to make sure they receive good care as they continue to get older. This is especially true if all of the kids live in a different city or state.

As the owner of Country Home Assisted Living in western Elbert County, near Parker, I’ve seen families struggle with how to start a conversation.  Because the subject can make children feel anxious and guilty, I’d like to offer a few tips to help.

  1. Don’t wait until you are crisis mode. If you are watching your parents’ health and abilities decline, don’t wait until they have fallen or are in dire straights to discuss a move to a retirement community. If you are not in crisis mode, everyone will be in a calmer state of mind. There also will be more time to look at options and make decisions.
  2. Do your homework. Research various living alternatives and facilities before you have the big “talk.” If you are prepared, you’ll be able to answer questions your parents might have, which will lead to a much more productive conversation.
  3. Keep communication lines open. Make sure you give every member of your family a chance to talk openly about the situation and the options, especially your parents. If your elderly loved ones feel that their concerns are being listened to, they’ll probably be more open to suggestions from you.  Be sure that you not only listen, but that you do your best to understand their concerns.
  4. Be rested. Schedule the “talk” for a time when all involved are rested and not under the weather.
  5. Don’t expect an immediate decision. I’ve seen many families have this discussion over the course of several months, if not more. Again, this is why it’s so crucial to do this before you are in crisis mode. It’s important to give everyone a chance to absorb the information you have provided and accept the idea.
  6. Stress your love. Yes, your parents know you love them. But during these difficult talks, they can sometimes question your motives. You might want to stress to them that you are bringing up this subject because of your love for them and your desire that their lives continue in a positive way as they age.

Finally, depending on your particular situation, it might be helpful to invite a respected outside party to be part of the discussion. This could be a long-time family friend, a physician, social worker or clergy member who can provide an outsider’s perspective.

While these discussions are some of the hardest you will every face, don’t delay in having them. If you are seeing signs that your parents may need more assistance than they have at home, it’s imperative to have the “talk” as soon as possible.

If you’d like information about Country Home or want to discuss your situation with someone in the industry, please don’t hesitate to call Country Home Assisted Living in Parker at 303.840.1986.