Parenting is tough work, and if you’re like most moms, you’ve probably leaned on your own parents a lot for help. Our parents are with us every step of the way as a constant pillar of support. That’s what can make it so tough to talk about senior living arrangements.
As your own parents get older, the subject of eldercare looms large. Expectations by both parties may be at odds with each other, and that can lead to some painful conflict within your family. If you’re facing the eldercare question, one of the most important things you can do is talk openly and honestly. Try some of these tactics for broaching the conversation and building bridges.
1) Start by Learning about Options
Your parents may have a lot of resistance to the idea of leaving their home, even if it’s getting harder to navigate stairs, slippery floors, or a bathroom that hasn’t been converted for mobility issues.
The first thing you should do is learn more about senior living options because they’ve come a long way from the nursing homes most people think of. Senior residences today can offer luxurious retirement living, and many offer a mix of senior apartments for independent living, assisted the independent living, and care neighborhoods.
2) Find Out How Your Parent Is Really Doing
Spending more time with older parents can be illuminating. When you only see them once in a while, they can put a mask on to hide problems they know are getting worse. Some signs to look for include:
- What’s in the fridge? Are they eating the way they always have, or is their diet potentially changing because it’s harder to get to the grocery store?
- Is there a significant decline in the cleanliness of the house that could be caused by mobility issues?
- How is their driving? Are they finding it harder to read road signs or respond to sudden changes in traffic?
Don’t get angry if you find they have been hiding health problems. It can be difficult coming to terms with a loss of independence. Be understanding, and start talking about solutions. If you haven’t already, it may be a good time to start looking into an advanced care directive to make sure your parent’s choices are clear when it comes to healthcare.
3) Find the Right Time to Talk
The subject of senior living or eldercare isn’t one that should be had over the phone. Schedule a time to have the conversation in which you won’t be interrupted when you’ll have time to listen and can go through your options together.
Are there other family members who should be part of the conversation as well? Make sure it’s a conversation you have as an entire family.
Make sure you really do listen to your older parent and hear out their fears, desires, and plans. It will be easy for them to feel defensive or even betrayed if you and your siblings “gang up” upon them, even if you believe senior care is the best option.
It doesn’t hurt to talk before a move is even necessary. Too many families ignore the way aging can change your lifestyle and leave the issue until it becomes urgent.