How to Talk to Parents About Assisted Living
Knowing how to talk to your parents about assisted living is the first step to avoiding a negative discussion and causing more stress.
Are you beginning to get concerned about your loved one’s day-to-day care and quality of life? Are you starting to think that their current living situation is not ideal for them, or you? Are you avoiding the necessary conversation about assisted living?
If you answered, “yes” to these questions, you’re in good company.
A recent Nationwide Retirement Institute survey of affluent adults (with a household income of $150k+) age 50 or older and adult caregivers, reveals that assisted living is definitely on everyone’s mind – we’re just not talking about it.
Unfortunately, this silence is probably adding a lot of unnecessary stress and strain on your loved one, and you.
As it turns out, “someone turning 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services and supports in their remaining years.” So, we need to talk honestly and openly about this very real eventuality. By avoiding this crucial conversation, you’re leaving your loved one’s natural fears and concerns weighing on them.
For example, while 77 percent of those surveyed said they would prefer to receive long-term care in their own home, 47 percent of these same folks worry that they will become a challenge to their family and 65 percent of them would rely on a family member for long-term care only if they could pay them.
Meanwhile, on the caregiver side of the equation, these family members are making family, career, and financial sacrifices to deliver what is often less effective care. Sacrifices they usually aren’t emotionally or financially prepared to bear.
During their prime earning years, these family caregivers, on average, are spending 56 hours per week as a caregiver, paying $4,038 a year on caregiver expenses, and 64 percent of them say that caregiving has negatively impacted their life emotionally or physically.
As you can see, it’s in the best interest of your loved one as well as you and your family to have this vital discussion. Statistics, like the ones shared above, demonstrate how these concerns are already on everyone’s minds. Starting an open and loving conversation about assisted living options is the best way to relieve a lot of stress and overcome unnecessary anxieties and fears.
Of course, that begs the question: How best to have this difficult conversation?
Your Approach is Everything
Before you even start a conversation about assisted living, it’s crucial to think through your approach. In this process, you should condition your mindset to be less goal-oriented and more to seek influence with your loved one over time.
Here are some of the necessary elements of a productive assisted living discussion.
- Relax – Do your best to make all of your discussions as open and relaxed as possible. Focus on the positive, quality of life enhancements that assisted living communities, and professional long-term care providers offer.
- Don’t Judge – Don’t judge or become frustrated by your loved one’s common initial resistance to the idea of transitioning to an assisted living community – moving into a new home.
- Keep Open Communication – Don’t expect this to be a single conversation and a quick decision. Instead, your only goal should be to open a line of communication and keep your talks open-ended.
- Empathy – This will be a meaningful change and life-event for your loved one, although a change for the better, a change all the same. Be empathetic to its significance. Always focus and listen intently to your loved one’s feelings, concerns, and fears.
- Patience – In most cases, there’s no rush to make a decision. Careful planning and preparation, well in advance of a transition to assisted living, gives all involved the best experience.
Understand, from the very first moment, that long-term care and assisted living community discussions should be open and on-going. Moving to an assisted living community can be a refreshing and revitalizing life decision for your loved one. Do your best to keep all conversations positive and patient.
Start with Health, Wellbeing, and Safety
The best place to start is often by having honest conversations about a loved one’s health, wellbeing, and safety.
As we age, our bodies and minds change. This simple fact of life requires us to make adjustments. Early on, it might be as simple as tucking a pair of reading glasses in my pocket, but later it will require modifying our homes and having professional caregivers available.
When you start to make more significant accommodations, it’s a good time to open discussions about assisted living – long before it is essential.
Discuss the Importance of Community
Too often we forget that our loved ones can become increasingly isolated as friends and families pass away, move away, or get busy raising new families. In other circumstances, seniors might become isolated because of decreased mobility and health issues.
Regardless of the circumstance, it’s never good for anyone to lose social connectivity and companionship. This connectivity and companionship is research-proven to be a significant contributor to quality of life and even longevity.
One of the greatest benefits of a high-quality assisted living community is all of the opportunities for your loved one to engage in social activities and foster new relationships.
The beauty of relationships is one of the first things most folks notice during a visit to The Kensington Sierra Madre. The community is bustling with activity – residents engaged and interacting with other residents, their visiting families, and The Kensington staff.
Having a community in your life is a natural life-giving elixir.
Most Seniors Plan on Assisted Living
We mentioned this earlier, but beginning a discussion about future long-term care options can be a great stress relief for your loved one.
In the same survey, we cited earlier, the majority of adults over 50 years of age are already planning to live in assisted living communities. Also, about half of them (49 percent) said it would be a relief to choose assisted living and take a potential burden off of their family members.
Don’t avoid this discussion because of your fears. Many times families are surprised by the relief in the room as begin talking. Often, your loved one has been waiting to start the assisted living conversation with you.
Paying for Senior Living Community
Financial planning, in all phases of our life, can be stressful. When starting to think about assisted living finances can be the biggest barrier to starting a conversation.
However, one of the golden rules of personal finance is that the earlier we begin planning, the easier it is to accomplish our financial goals. Paying for assisted living is no different, confronting this fear early often reveals a lot of options and avoids unplanned or considered financial burdens.
Although paying for assisted living can sound scary, there are often several viable financial options to provide your loved one with the benefits of living in one of these special communities. The key is planning, preparing, and seeking expert counsel as early as possible.
Another reason to start talking to your loved ones early.
Schedule a Visit
If your loved one is considering transitioning to assisted living, we cordially invite you to come and see The Kensington Sierra Madre Difference for yourself, and how we fulfill our promise to love and care for your family as we do our own.
- How to Talk to Your Parents About Assisted Living, NPR, Talk of the Nation
- Home for the Holidays, Talk to Your Family About Assisted Living, CNBC
- 2018 Long-term Care Consumer Survey Results, Nationwide Retirement Institute