Adult children often avoid having conversations about assisted living because they assume their parents would never want to leave home.
But what is often misunderstood is that parents can also worry about living alone. And remember, if you are seeing signs that they are struggling, they likely are aware as well.
Your parents may be afraid, lonely or concerned that they can no longer keep up with the house. They may not share these feelings because they don’t want to admit that their capabilities have declined or they may not want to be a burden.
They also may be unsure of what to do next.
Bringing up the subject early, before there is a crisis, may actually be a relief to everyone. Let your parents know you’d like to help them think about what they would like to do.
Here are a few questions to consider with parents who live alone:
The priority is always safety. If you believe they are in physical danger, action will need to be taken immediately. However, if there is time, you can better plan together how to approach the situation.
Observe or ask if they are able to perform the basic activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming, preparing meals and paying bills. If not, more help is definitely needed.
Even if your parents live alone and are able to handle the basic tasks of life, they could still need help. If they are isolated and unable to have social interaction with others, both their physical and cognitive health is at risk.
Has their home become more cluttered? Are they struggling even with light housekeeping? Their inability to keep up with their home can be a sign that they need help. It can also become a safety hazard if things aren’t put away or they have to walk around objects to cross the room.
It’s important to take note of your parent’s overall view of their living situation. Do they appear confident in taking care of all that’s necessary to live at home? Is it obvious that they are doing well? Or are they starting to become anxious and perhaps trying to express that it’s becoming too much to handle?
Even if your parents are also concerned about their ability to live at home alone, the subject of moving can still be delicate. Consider these suggestions to have the conversation:
Most families delay this conversation for as long as possible. But it is important to talk with your parents before help is needed or they are in crisis. If you are noticing problems, it’s critical to address what is going on and help them search for the right solutions.
Learn about all of the benefits and advantages that assisted living communities can offer. Practice what you want to say and also be prepared for your response if it doesn’t go well. If you know of other families that have been helped by this type of move, try telling their story.
Sometimes it’s most helpful to imagine how you would react if your children came to you in the same situation. Try to think of what questions you might have or what objections you would voice. And then be prepared with your responses.
Unless your parents are unable to make the call, your role should be of education provider and support. Parents often feel pressured and treated as if they have no say in the matter. This immediately will put them on the defensive. Instead reassure them that you are there to help by discussing ideas or offering to take them to visit different communities.
Ask what their concerns are or what they fear the most about leaving home and moving into assisted living. Also, ask if they have any concerns about living alone. Try to really listen to their answers. They may have been feeling anxious but didn’t know or were afraid of the next step.
One good strategy is to answer every concern that they or you may have with a benefit of moving into an assisted living community. Do they feel overwhelmed with home maintenance? Tie it into the advantages of maintenance-free living? Are they lonely? Explain the many ways of making friends. In fact, in assisted living, it’s almost guaranteed.
The earlier and the more conversations you can have, the better. It’s critical not to make your parents feel as if they are being backed into a corner. It can help to bring up the subject casually in the beginning, just to get things started. Try not to overwhelm your parents with information or create a situation of urgency that a decision must be made today.
Whether your parents are also concerned about living alone or you are beginning to worry about their safety and security, assisted living can often be the right answer.
At Ingleside at King Farm Assisted Living, we believe in a whole-person approach and our well-being philosophy ensures everyone is treated with the respect that allows independence and choice. All of our staff members are trained to compassionately engage with our residents, assisting them when needed and supporting them to age well always.
If your family is considering assisted living, we invite you to download our free resource, Just the Facts: Your Guide to Assisted Living.
Call (240) 414-8557 if you have any questions or schedule a personalized tour today.