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How To Talk To An Elderly Parent About Assisted Living

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Many of our parents will retain their independence into their 70s and even into their 80s. But there usually comes a time when Mom or Dad (or both) can no longer take care of themselves. At some point, you will need to discuss whether your elderly parent should move into an assisted living facility—and it is a conversation that few children relish. Read on for helpful tips about having this important conversation.

Learn about Assisted Living

Before broaching the idea to your parent, learn as much as you can about the options available. Doing so will allow you to confidently answer any questions or concerns that Mom or Dad has.

You might also learn about options that can delay the move to assisted living, at least temporarily. For example, your parent might need a home health aide who can visit and help your parent with daily living tasks. This might be all they need, or it can be a good first step to getting them comfortable with the idea of leaving their homes.

Start Early

To make the discussion as non-threatening as possible, you should start the dialogue early, probably when your parents are still healthy. You can expect, and will receive, resistance. Few elderly people want to leave their homes, so you need to understand that talking about assisted living is usually a dialogue that can last for a couple years.

Unfortunately, many people wait until a crisis hits—such as a parent falling and fracturing their hip. At that point, they try to strongarm a parent into assisted living, but the parent has no interest at all in not returning home.

Find a comfortable time and gently introduce the issue. Use hypotheticals, such as, “Have you thought about what you’ll do when Dad dies?” You can then raise the possibility of moving into an assisted living facility.

Present Options in a Positive Way

Don’t present the facility as a place where Mom or Dad is going so that they can die. Instead, talk about the community and the activities presented at the facility. Refer to it as “the home” and refer to other residents as “neighbors,” not “residents.”

One good idea is to actually physically visit the assisted living facilities in person. This step can erase the fear of the unknown once your parent actually sees the facility and the people living or working there.

Listen to Your Parent’s Concerns

If you are insensitive to what your parents are feeling, then you can expect them to shut down and resist moving even harder. Instead, remain open. Listen to what they have to say and ask questions if you need clarification. Remember that this will be you in a few short years, so having appropriate sympathy should be easy.

Also address your parent’s concern. For example, your Mom might not want to leave home because she has a beloved pet that she doesn’t want to lose. You can come up with a plan for who will take care of the pet and how she can visit it. Alternately, you might find an assisted living facility that allows pets.

The Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group in The Villages is Here to Help

As our parents age, more legal issues arise. If you have a question about guardianship, estate planning, or long-term care, please contact us today at the Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group in The Villages. You can reach us by calling 800-743-9732 or submitting an online message.

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