Navigating Difficult Conversations About Assisted Living

Navigating a parent’s aging can be a sensitive topic. It might mean having difficult conversations, both with a parent and siblings. It can understandably be an emotionally-charged time often with many differing opinions about what is best for mom or dad. If you are finding it challenging to approach this conversation with family members, know that this is very common. The good news is, there are ways to approach these conversations so everyone’s concerns are heard and your parent’s best interest is at the forefront of the discussion. If you’ve noticed a decline in your parent’s health or are starting to become concerned about their safety, chances are it is time to begin researching and discussing assisted living options.

Tips for talking with siblings

Tips for Talking With Siblings

Beginning the conversation about your aging parent with siblings or other family members can be hard. Family dynamics are a tricky thing to navigate whenever you’re making a big decision or talking about a sensitive subject. Following are tips on how to approach the conversation so everyone can feel heard and get on the same page:

Have a Family Meeting

A great way to facilitate this conversation is to call a family meeting. Think of this as a business meeting in which everyone checks their own emotions about the subject at the door. While this can be an emotionally-charged conversation, it is important to have discussions without heightened emotions clouding the actual reality of the situation.

Instead, position this meeting as a place to discuss the emotional, physical, and safety concerns of your parent. If you’re finding it difficult to have this conversation you might consider bringing in an outside, neutral person or counselor for additional guidance.

It’s Never Too Early to Begin the Conversation

If you can, begin the conversation about assisted living as early as possible. It’s never too early to start the discussion, which will help avoid crisis decision making. If you see   little things over time such as a decline in nutrition, forgetting medication, sleep trouble, and depression, it’s time to start the conversation.

If assisted living is not the right choice for right now, it’s still beneficial to start the research and discussion process to make things easier for yourself and your family down the road.

Look at the Facts

Approach the conversation with your family by looking at the facts:

The Reality: What is the current reality for your parent? Are there health or safety concerns you’ve noticed? Share any recent observations you’ve made, you may even want to keep a journal detailing your observations. The benefit of sharing your observations and having the discussion with others is to get your family on the same page. Everyone’s input matters. which can be done that we all have a different vantage point and might observe different things.

Your Feelings: Talking about your feelings can be an opportunity to speak more openly about concerns. Here are some examples: “I’m worried about dad’s safety.” or “Mom’s dementia is getting worse and I feel like it’s also taking a toll on dad as her caretaker.”

Finances: Discuss any financial concerns and brainstorm what realistic next steps could be. It’s important to have an understanding of your parent’s ability to pay for future care. of your This is where reaching out to an assisted living community like Clark can be particularly helpful. Clark can provide resources on what care options are available as well as the finances associated with this care.

Getting on the Same Page

The goal of the family meeting is to get everyone on the same page about the current situation and determining the next best steps. At the end of the day, everyone wants what is best for your parent and for them to have the best quality of life possible.

 

Tips for Talking With Your Parent

Tips for Talking With Your Parent

Once you’ve spoken to your siblings and have made the decision that assisted living would be the best fit for your parent, it’s time to have a conversation with your parent. It may feel like there has been a power dynamic shift and now you are telling your own parent what is best for them. The role of parent and child feel like they have reversed. There are a few things you can do to help approach this conversation with your parent:

Manage Your Own Expectations

Go into the conversation knowing that your parent might not be happy about your recommendation. Managing your own expectations from the start can help the conversation go more smoothly rather than escalating to an argument immediately.

Make it About You

Center the conversation around you and how much peace-of-mind you’ll have knowing  they’re in a safe, secure environment. Be honest with your parent about how YOU are feeling. Let them know things like:

    • I am exhausted.
    • It would be comforting for ME to know you are being taken care of.
    • I would feel relief knowing you are somewhere where you can receive additional care and have social interactions.

Talk About Medical Concerns

Another tip for leading the discussion with a parent is to mention a key medical benefit that moving to assisted living would offer, be it a specific service or treatment that is more easily offered there.

Look at the Pro’s and Con’s

Make a pros and cons list with your parent for moving to assisted living. Highlight how the pros like social opportunities and not having to worry about lawn maintenance, cooking or medication management outweigh the cons of leaving something familiar.

Take the Emotion Out of the Conversation

Instead of focusing on the emotions of this conversation, focus on talking about what your parent will be gaining. By moving, they can do more than simply survive. Their  quality of life will be so much better. They will be gaining a built-in community and the priceless benefits that come from social connection. Instead of thinking about “this is what I’m leaving behind” reframe to what you are gaining — less chores, manageable environment within a larger community, and a better quality of life.

Talk with a Clark Senior Living Advisor

If you think your loved one could benefit from being part of Clark’s community, contact our senior living advisors at info@clarkretirement.org or 616-278-6520 or fill out the form below to schedule a personalized consultation to discuss your loved one’s situation and see if Clark is the right fit for your loved one.

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