Although most of us would prefer to “age in place”, the truth of the matter is that as we get older, the chance of us requiring some form of senior living care increases. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, seventy percent of seniors 65 years and older will need some form of long-term care. Often, receiving the care required could mean moving into an assisted living facility.
Faced with the uncomfortable task of talking to your parents about their, perhaps not-so-distant future, can seem daunting. If you’re not prepared for the discussion, bringing up the topic of assisted living can be especially difficult. After all, what can you say to your parents about uprooting them from their own home and moving them into a totally unfamiliar environment? It’s only natural that they would resist the transition. So how do you broach the topic without the fear of hurting their feelings, making your parents resentful, or even angry? Although every situation is different, the seven tips provided below may help foster a more healthy discussion.
1) Do Your Research and Learn About the Assisted Living Facilities Available
The timing may be out of your control since in many situations the need for assistance isn’t realized until a crisis occurs, such as a fall, illness or injury that forces the discussion. So being proactive will help. Talk to them about assistance before a crisis occurs – and the best way to avoid the fear of that discussion is to be prepared. Know what you are going to say in advance. That means researching facilities available and learning everything you can about them including:
What facilities are near your parents
What are the levels of care that are offered by each facility
What costs are involved
What kind of social climate do each have
What activities are offered
What feedback others have provided on each facility
Ate the rooms private or semi-private
What happens when a resident becomes non-ambulatory
2) Get Your Siblings (if any) Involved
Your siblings (if any) may have different opinions on how your parents should receive care as they age. Be sure to get input from your siblings about the kind of care and the facilities you think might be a good fit for your parents. It’s important for all of the siblings to be in agreement before discussing anything with your parents. Coming to a general agreement with them before you talk to your parents could mean avoiding arguments with your siblings later.
3) Begin the Discussion by Talking to Your Parents About “What If” Scenarios
Seldom do husband and wife leave this earth together. One of them will usually pass first, or need more care than the other as time goes on. Learn more about any medical conditions that each of them may have that you may not know about, then talk to them about what they think should happen in “what if” scenarios. This can start getting your parents engaged in the process of thinking more about what care they may need as they continue to age. You could even begin the discussion by referring to a recent article you read on aging, and then transition into asking your parents if they are prepared. Above all, don’t judge your parents if they aren’t. Many of us put off thinking about our final years until the need is forced on us. No one wants to give up their independence. Try to be as compassionate and understanding as possible.
4) Learn More About Your Parents Financial Situation
One of the advantages of assisted living facilities is that they not only provide certain levels of care services, but also include a room or small apartment as a residence, as well as prepared meals. Therefore your parents would no longer have the cost of home maintenance, property taxes, utilities, and other costs involved in owning a home. You can then compare the cost of the facility to what it costs your parents each month to live in their current home. But the cost of the facility is only the starting point. You’ll need to learn all you can about your parents financial situation including:
Eligibility for veterans benefits
Savings, securities, and other assets
Do they still have a mortgage or other debts
What is the current value of their home
Do they have long-term care insurance
Do they have supplemental health insurance
What is their monthly income (Social Security, pension, investments, etc.)
5) Get Your Parents Involved in the Decision
One of the easiest ways to get your parents involved in the decision-making process is to invite them to join you in looking at the assisted living facilities available in their area. Make appointments with each facility and take a tour. Let your parents ask the questions that most concern them. This can help them get over some of the fear of what the next part of their life may be like.
6) What If They Are Adamant About Staying in Their Own Home?
One of the underlying reasons why many people don’t want to go to an assisted living facility is that they think they are going there to die. If they can afford it, talk to your parents about the option of getting help in their own home first. This would allow them to age in place as long as possible. At some point it may be necessary for them to move into a facility that can provide a higher degree of assistance, but in-home care can help make that transition less traumatic.
7) Find a Facility That Offers More Than One Care Level
Facilities like Tore’s Home in Western North Carolina offer a full spectrum of services, from independent living in their own home, independent living in one of the Tores homes, assisted living, extended care, memory care (Alzheimers and dementia) and Hospice Care/End-of-Life Care – even respite care. Facilities like Tore’s Home can be your best solution to helping your parents ease into the care necessary in the final chapter of their lives.
Talking to your parents about their future care needs can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Following a few simple steps to prepare for the conversation can make the entire process much easier.