It is not easy to talk to your parents about moving into an assisted living community, and it can be an emotional roller coaster for both parties. Though the clear answer may be that a loved one needs extra personal care, it may happen that they feel very strongly in the opposite direction. Taking steps to ensure the conversation happens in a respectful manner will make it less painful for both of you. Too often, personal feelings get in the way of listening to the other person and it can feel like the conversation is hitting a brick wall.
To better formulate how to handle this conversation, you must first understand what moving into one of these communities can feel like for an older adult. Empathizing is the first step to a respectful and productive conversation about your concerns for their well-being.
Moving into an assisted living community for the first time is one of the largest decisions an older adult has to make and there are plenty of negative connotations are associated with the transition. One of the big ones is a loss of independence. It can feel like a loss of autonomy: an admittance of needing daily assistance or the admittance of no longer being able to live alone.
Not only this, but the transition also raises fears of mortality. In many people’s minds, especially if they have never visited an assisted living facility, may have the misguided belief that these communities are just waiting rooms for death, but this is not the case at all, as many living in these communities can tell you.
Once you have established an understanding of the emotional toll your parent can experience talking about this subject may have on your loved one, be aware of the emotional toll you are experiencing. It is difficult to watch our parents grow older, and you may also be dealing with feelings of guilt or shame that may try to express themselves through anger. Do not let them.
Now that you understand the weight of the conversation, you are ready to move on to the next step: gathering information on a few assisted living communities of your choice. When talking to your parent or loved one about making the move it will be crucial that you know what you are talking about.
Because they may have false ideas and negative connotations surrounding the idea of moving, it could be helpful to share some positive aspects of assisted living, such as an emphasis on the ease it is to become or remain socially active in these communities and the simplification of personal daily activities.
After all the preparation is done, it is time to start talking. The most important thing is to not force anyone into making the decision you want, or force them to allow you to decide for them. Make sure both parties remain open and engage in active listening. If it starts to get heated, consider taking a step back and revisiting the topic at a later date.