Assisted Living: How To Have "The Talk"

It’s probably true that few topics evoke such trepidation as “the talk” about assisted living with an aging parent. Even the way it tends to come up – at a sensitive moment in time – seems to set an emotional stage for pitting two competing wills.

Six Strategies For Reasoning With Reluctant Parents

For adult children, the urgency associated with assisted living is often enhanced by a parent’s chronic health condition, increasing difficulty with everyday activities such as taking medications, or even a recent fall.

If assisted living is the best solution for your loved one, here’s six real-world strategies you can use to reason with reluctant parents:

1. Build A Dialogue Based On Trust

Chronic illness, cognitive decline and other factors of aging can be used to start building a dialogue with an elderly parent about their long-term care options.

Creating a conversation based on trust and cooperation challenges us not only to understand both the realities and myths of aging, but to use conversational tools and strategies for talking with seniors.

According to generation gap expert David Solie, M.S., P.A., in his How To Say It To Seniors, when they became parents, today’s older generation were the beneficiaries of fundamental shifts in the models of child personality development. Solie contends that “we are still in the Dark Ages about how such models apply to older adults.” While we may think we have a good idea about what motivates the aged, having never been old ourselves, we have no idea what it actually feels like. Understanding those feelings requires building a bridge of empathy and trust.

2. Plant A Seed About Assisted Living

Instead of trying to reach a resolution, begin early in the process with the objective of simply planting the seed of an idea.

You have all the logical and practical reasons why a move makes sense, but your parent has emotional responses based on a lifetime of habits and memories.

In a sense, when it comes to the decision-making process, you’re speaking different languages. Older adults often see the home in terms of their legacy, a fact best addressed by trying to become their legacy coach or ally, helping them come to terms with late-life tasks. Listening to their stories about the home, even ones we’ve heard before, can help them process and deal with the eventuality of change.

Helping them explore the question of where they will live, instead of attempting to control the discussion, can be instrumental in helping a parent make their own choice about their future care.

3. Involve Medical Professionals

Helping a parent cope with the physical and mental challenges of aging is not as simple as urging them to “follow doctor’s orders.” Today’s complex medical environment can make an older adult feel as though they are losing control, and their intense feelings can often come as a surprise, particularly among those who are showing symptoms of dementia.

Sonata Senior Living’s Director of Operations Brooke Ellis often advises families on this topic. “Don’t be hesitant to enlist the support of siblings, family friends and advocacy organizations when discussing medical issues,” she says.

“As with the home, introduce the issue as helping to answer the question, How can I best manage my health? Framing the subject this way can assist the parent in coping with the issue without feeing the loss of control. It also helps to include medical professionals whenever possible and demystifying medical jargon in favor of real-world language an aging parent can understand.”

4. Emphasize The Advantages

An approach that emphasizes the advantages of service-enriched retirement living will likely be seen more positively than concepts that suggest limitations.

Many older adults perceive assisted living as a “nursing home,” but the concept of senior living has radically evolved over the years. Service-enriched assisted living communities in Florida offer a quality of life our parent’s parents never dreamed of. Luxury amenities, on-site health services such as transportation to doctor’s appointments, and chef-inspired dining are commonplace in modern-day retirement communities.

Residents at communities such as Sonata Senior Living purportedly feel like they are on an extended vacation or land cruise, equipped with entertainment and concierge service.

5. Speak Plainly About Money

A parent many be concerned that assisted living will exhaust their resources. This could be your opportunity to take your parent to tour senior living communities such as Sonata Senior Living in Central and South Florida. An in-person visit and a confidential discussion of the possibilities will not only help to dispel such fears, it can reinforce the idea that personal choice is at the heart of the decision.

There are numerous ways to pay for assisted living. Educating your parent about the different types of Florida assisted living contracts will aid in building trust. For instance, an assisted living community with a lease option may be a better fit with their budget to evade the large upfront fees associated with equity-based “Lifecare” models.

6. Be Ready To Be Flexible

Any open dialogue about a change of residence can have unexpected advances and retreats, as well as surprising detours.

“Be ready to be flexible,” said Brooke. “Coaching a parent through long-term care options can involve a willingness to back off and reexamine your approach. Be prepared to discuss what your parent would miss about home and provide reassurance that you will continue to be a routine part of their lives.”

Taking a flexible view means relinquishing control and rising above occasional setbacks, as well as not taking negative reactions personally. Keep the goal in mind – which is to move your parent to a safer environment – and remember that building trust is the first step.

Coaching A Parent Through Long-Term Care Options

Sonata Senior Living offers a full range of lifestyle choices including rental-based independent living and assisted living as well as specialized memory care assisted living for those with Alzheimer’s disease and memory challenges. Call us for assistance in talking to a parent about the various long-term care options.

Our personalized approach to senior living enriches the lives of older adults by enabling them to maintain independence longer.

To learn more about Sonata Senior Living, contact us today→ or schedule a visit →

Download Your Guide To Healthy Aging & Longevity in Florida

Florida sunshine does more than just boost your Vitamin D levels. It can add years to your life! Find your personal path to good health and longevity in our FREE guide to Healthy Aging in Florida.