Have you noticed your parents getting more frail? Maybe they are becoming more and more lonely since they can’t get out any more. Perhaps their house is not as spic and span as it used to be. Or maybe, you are noticing medication left in the pill box or a lack of food in the refrigerator. There are many cues that tell us when it’s time to think about whether mom or dad is able to live alone any longer and may need residential or assisted living. Residential living is independent living in an apartment licensed for assisted living. All this means is that if the time ever comes that your mom or dad needs assistance with day to day living, care can be provided right in that apartment. In addition, residential living includes meals, housekeeping, maintenance and activities. Assisted living includes all these services plus care. Okay, back to the conversation. Realizing you must broach this subject is one thing, but starting that conversation is another. Here are some strategies that may help you.
Starting the Conversation
Realize that your parents fear giving up their independence. They have worked, raised a family and maintained a home for most, if not all, of their adult lives. Having someone, especially their child, tell them it’s time to give that up can be scary and overwhelming. They will probably resist at first, but don’t give up. The first conversation is usually the hardest. Ask them to think about how they will take care of themselves in the event you are unable to help them. Tell them their situation is worrying you … you love them and don’t want to see anything happen. Explain that they should be making these decisions while they are able. Understand that this will probably take more than one discussion.
Ask for Recommendations
Ask friends, colleagues or neighbors for recommendations. Research on-line. Call residential or assisted living communities of interest and speak with the marketing director. They should ask a lot of questions about your mom or dad to find out what their life is like, what they need, what your concerns are, etc. They will want you to schedule an appointment. Many websites urge you to drop in, which is perfectly fine, but making an appointment will assure you of uninterrupted time. If you drop in the marketing team may have appointments already scheduled, which means a possible wait or shortened visit for you. Your time is precious and you don’t have time to wait and you certainly don’t want your visit cut short.
Realize your parents probably have that old stereotype of “going into a home.” They may have even asked you to never “put them in a home.” When the time comes when you feel a residential or assisted living environment is right for your parent, investigate by yourself first. Find out about the lifestyle from residents who live there. Ask about the organization’s philosophy around maintaining residents’ independence. When you find a community you like ask about events you could attend with your mom or dad that will allow them to get a flavor for the community in a non-threatening way.
Once you have narrowed your search to a couple you think are appropriate, bring your parents for a visit, either to an event as noted above, or a scheduled appointment with the marketing director. The marketing director should highlight things on the tour he or she knows are of interest to your mom or dad based on past discussions. If they don’t do this, bring it up yourself. Make sure your parents are made aware of what the community can offer that is important to them.
Peace of Mind
The residential and assisted living communities of today are very different from the nursing homes of the previous generation. Your parent will live in an apartment with housekeeping and maintenance provided. In assisted living, they will have access to medical care, if needed. There are a variety of activities and delicious dining in beautifully appointed dining rooms. The majority of residents wish they had made the move sooner. You will have no greater reward than the peace-of-mind you will get knowing they are safe and well cared for.
Visit our Senior Resources & Links page for websites that contain useful information for seniors and their families on a multitude of issues related to aging and senior care.