According to the United States Census Bureau, almost 53 million US residents were 65 years or older in 2019 and by 2030, one out of five Americans will be of retirement age. Aging comes with a higher risk of developing illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease or arthritis. Older adults may also experience declined mobility and need assistance with everyday tasks like cooking and housekeeping. If you notice that your aging parents are struggling with activities of daily living, it may be time to begin the assisted living talk with them.
Your parents would likely have some reservations about assisted living. They could be afraid of losing their independence once they move into a retirement community. They may even have difficulty accepting that they have gone from being the caretaker of the family to the ones in need of help. Some may simply be nervous about having to adjust to a new environment with unfamiliar faces. Whatever their concerns may be, understanding why your loved ones are reluctant to move into assisted living is the first step to addressing their anxieties.
You should begin the conversation about the possibility of your parents requiring assisted living instead of waiting until a health crisis or unfortunate incident happens. By starting the assisted living talk early, your loved ones will have plenty of time to get used to the idea of moving into an assisted living community in the future and will be able to consider all factors without pressure.
If you have any siblings, make sure to include them in the discussion. As the decision to move to assisted living will affect everyone, ensure that all key family members have their voices heard. Some family members may disagree with the move while some may argue for it. It is important that everyone’s feelings and rationales are understood and acknowledged. Remember, it is not necessary to reach a consensus after the first conversation. You may have to broach the topic several times before your family can come to a conclusion. Allow your family members time to do their own research or clarify their stances.
Visit the Retirement Community
One of the biggest reasons your parents may be reluctant to move into assisted living is the fear of the unknown. Allowing your loved ones to experience the environment for themselves may remove some unfounded fears. Visiting the retirement community will not only allow them to visualize what living there will be like, but also give them a feel for the people, lifestyle, and culture of the place. Bring along key family members as well, so that they can have more information to base their decisions on.
Get a Doctor’s Opinion
You may want to seek the opinion of a medical professional to assess if your loved one requires assisted living. Arrange a home visit from your family doctor and get them to examine your loved one. A medical professional will be able to evaluate your loved one’s needs from an objective point of view and make a convincing argument for whether it would be medically prudent for your loved one to move into assisted living.
Assisted living has many benefits and circumstances may deem that it is prudent for your parents to move into a retirement community. However, after presenting the options available to your loved ones and making a persuasive argument, the ultimate decision to move to assisted living should still lie with them.