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Navigating the Conversation: 10 Ideas for Talking to Aging Parents About Assisted Living

Discussing the transition to assisted living with aging parents can be challenging and may feel awkward. But research consistently shows that as our loved ones grow older, they often rely on family members for guidance and support when considering this option. It’s important to have this conversation early on, before a significant health crisis emerges.

“When we counsel families considering this decision, it can’t be stressed enough the important role that early planning can play in reducing anxiety and uncertainty for the whole family,” says Grace Ferri, Chief Marketing Officer, United Hebrew. “These conversations are ultimately supporting better health and well-being for aging parents or loved ones, so knowing you’re tackling a difficult topic for the right reasons should help ease you into “the talk.”

Ms. Ferri suggests 10 ways you can make the conversation less stressful and more fruitful.

1. Acknowledge the Sensitivity

It’s essential to recognize the sensitivity that often surrounds discussions about declining health, mobility or cognitive decline. When greater professional care, such as assisted living, is needed, aging adults fear the loss independence or they may feel abandoned, which makes the conversation emotionally charged. Understanding these feelings and approaching the conversation with empathy is the first step in making it more manageable.

2. Start the Conversation Early

One of the most significant mistakes families can make is to avoid the talk until it becomes absolutely necessary. Experience tells us that discussing assisted living should happen well before a crisis arises. Starting early allows everyone involved to explore options calmly and make well-informed decisions.

3. Gather Information

Before initiating the conversation, it’s essential to gather information about assisted living options. Research various facilities, their amenities, and the level of care they provide. Understand the associated costs, available resources, and the specific services your aging parents may need. Senior living campuses, like United Hebrew, welcome families to tour their facility and families who may want to “test drive” United Hebrew Assisted Living can organize a short term stay of respite care for their loved one and take a break for themselves.

Related Story: Assisted Living in Westchester County: The Price, Prep and Process

4. Choose the Right Time and Place

Timing is crucial. Ensure you choose an appropriate time and place for the conversation. Find a quiet, comfortable setting where everyone can sit down and discuss matters openly without interruptions or time constraints. It’s also advisable to schedule the discussion when everyone is feeling relaxed and not under pressure.

5. Open, Honest, and Respectful Communication

Approach the conversation with openness, honesty, and respect. Express your concerns and listen to your parents’ wishes and apprehensions as well. Avoid making unilateral decisions; instead, encourage a collaborative approach that respects their autonomy.

6. Create a Supportive Plan

Once the conversation is underway, work together to create a plan for assisted living that aligns with your parents’ preferences and needs. This plan should consider their financial situation, medical requirements, and the level of support they may need in the future.

7. Discuss Legal and Financial Matters

Don’t forget to discuss legal and financial matters. This may include setting up power of attorney, creating a will, and ensuring that all necessary legal documents are in place. Financial planning is also vital to guarantee your parents’ financial security during their transition to assisted living.

8. Regularly Revisit the Plan

An assisted living plan isn’t static; it should evolve as your parents’ needs change. Commit to regularly revisiting and adjusting the plan as necessary. This ongoing communication will help everyone involved feel more at ease with the decisions made.

9. Seek Professional Guidance

Consider involving professionals such as elder care attorneys or financial advisors. Their expertise can provide valuable insights and ensure that all legal and financial aspects are appropriately addressed.

10. Emotional Support

Remember that the conversation about assisted living is not just about logistics. It’s also an emotional process for everyone involved. Offer love and support to your parents and encourage them to lean on you and the family.

“Discussing the transition to assisted living with aging parents can be uncomfortable, but it’s a necessary conversation to ensure their well-being and quality of life is the best it can be,” adds Ferri. “By initiating this dialogue early, gathering information, and approaching it with empathy and respect, you can make the process smoother and less stressful for everyone. Remember that the goal is to provide the best care and support for your parents in their golden years, while respecting their wishes and autonomy as they embark on this new chapter in their lives.”

For more information or to book a tour of United Hebrew’s Senior Living Campus, click here.