While most of us have visions of aging in place, this isn't feasible for everyone. In fact, illness, help with daily activities and a confluence of other factors mean you may need to discuss assisted living with your parents.
If mishandled, this can be one of the most difficult conversations you'll ever have with your parents. However, with a little bit of thought and planning, discussing this topic can be a lot easier than you think. Here are a few tips and strategies you can use to brooch the subject.
Don't wait for a crisis to begin the discussion of relocating to an assisted living facility. It's best to open the lines of communication as early as possible.
Waiting until after a health scare, hospitalization or an accident can cause you and your parents to make a rash, hasty decision. By planting seeds as early as possible and beginning the discussion now, you will help your parents begin incorporating an assisted living facility into their options. At the same time, they will have much more time to think it over.
Have a Face-to-Face Conversation
Without a doubt, your parents will need and want to be active participants in the process of deciding where they will live out their golden years. Even so, you'll find the conversation to be much more fruitful if you have the talk in person. Make sure to avoid large family gatherings or busy holidays to have the conversation.
Plan a special trip with you and your siblings to talk to your parents about their long-term plans. When you enter the conversation, remember that you have two ears and one mouth, so you should do a lot more listening than talking. Then, be very forthright with your concerns. For example, you can explain "Mom, I am concerned about the distance between us and would feel a lot more comfortable if you were closer. How would you feel about moving to Florida so you can be closer to me?"
Encourage Open Dialogue
It's critical to understand you're asking your parents to make a big move. In the event they flat out refuse, remember to be respectful and ask them to share their concerns. In many instances, "no" really means "not now" or "I don't want to talk about it right now."
It doesn't mean it will be impossible in the future — they just aren't quite ready. Instead of risking making your parents dig in even deeper, starting an argument, or forcing the issue — use your "listening ears." Work to ask the right questions to uncover their concerns and objections, and then validate those objections.
Once you discover their objections, you can gradually develop and introduce counter arguments for a future conversation. Keep in mind that as long as your parents are not cognitively impaired, they have the right to refuse to move. That being the case, it is a good time to make sure you can help them with other decisions such as by ensuring they have a durable power of attorney and other advance directives so you have legal authority to make decisions for them if they are unable to do so.
Ensure Your Parents Remain Empowered
Although it's extremely tempting to do everything and go ahead and make all of the decisions yourself, you must resist at all costs! If you choose to do everything yourself, you'll add a lot of stress to your plate and your parents will be alienated. Remember that this is your parents’ lives and your parents must remain engaged and empowered throughout the process.
Keep in mind that your parents will be the ones living there, which means they deserve to have the majority of the input. You can keep them engaged by asking their advice on what's most important to them in an assisted living facility, including location, social aspects, move-in dates, and more. Simply put, the more involved your parents are in the process, the higher their level of buy-in into the process, and the smoother the transition will be.
Be Ready for Short Tempers
Your parents may lose their temper through the transition. Instead of taking it personally, try to put yourself in their shoes. For most of their lives, they've been independent, self-supporting people. Now — because of factors outside of their control — you're asking them to move to an assisted living facility.
Most importantly, roles are being reversed. You are becoming the caretaker for those who used to care for you. This isn't an easy transition, and it's perfectly normal for fear, anxiety, and frustration to emerge. Do your best to address their feelings with love first followed by positive affirmations.
Contact Cona Elder Law to Develop an Estate and Asset Protection Plan
Many parents and seniors are overwhelmed by the notion of moving into an assisted living facility. Even so, it's the reality for a substantial portion of us. Currently, around one million Americans live in some type of senior living community. By the year 2030, this number is expected to double.Whenever it's time for you to have this difficult conversation, the Elder Law attorneys at Cona Elder Law are here to help. We offer decades of experience assisting people like you and your parents in developing comprehensive estate and asset protection plans so you can rest easier knowing you've taken the steps today for a more secure future.