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Discussing assisted living with your loved one? Here is how to prepare for the conversation.

It’s a hard conversation no one is ever really ready to have. There are so many factors involved, including emotions. But if you prepare yourself, it doesn’t have to be as difficult a conversation as you might think. The best time to have the conversation with your aging parents about Assisted Living is early – start the dialogue early in their aging years, before there is a crisis. And, just like any important subject, you can’t discuss something with someone else until you’ve first done your research. Doing your homework before you initiate the conversation about Assisted Living can make for a much smoother and more intelligent conversation and, ultimately, life transition.

Start with these tips when you are ready to talk to an aging parent about senior living, senior care and the way forward for your family.

  • Empathize with your parent/s. As you determine your approach for talking with your parent/s, put yourself in your parents’ shoes to try to anticipate some of the fears or concerns they may have about this discussion and life-changing move. Next, create a list of your concerns for your aging parent. Are you worried, for example, that their home is no longer a safe environment for them? Are they having some health problems? Are they starting to have trouble with activities of daily living, such as dressing, grooming, bathing or managing their medications? You may want to discuss your concerns with other family members to get their perspectives as well. You might even role play with a sibling to get an idea of how the conversation might go. Write down all your observations.
  • Educate yourself. As you learn more about senior care options such as Assisted Living, you’ll have a better understanding of what will fit your aging parent best. Admitting just how much help your loved one needs isn’t easy, and you may find yourself downplaying just how serious their need for help really is. But be as objective as you can. You and your parents may also have concerns about how communities handle emergencies and health issues such as outbreaks of flu or COVID-19. Most community websites have information about their safety protocols, and you can always call and ask.
  • Evaluate the environment. Learn how important their living situation is for seniors. Where you live influences how well you live as you grow older — meaning location and environment have an effect on everything from physical safety to mental health to longevity. The more you learn about this, the better prepared you’ll be. You might even consider touring a community to get a feel for what their new lifestyle will be like before you have any conversations.

Exploring the options and learning more about successful aging can give you the knowledge and confidence you need to begin this conversation. Taking time to research all your options is a good investment of your time. It doesn’t mean you are committing to move your parent/s immediately, nor does it mean you are making any decisions without their consent. It just means you are preparing yourself to be as helpful as possible for the conversation and decisions ahead. In summary, the four words to remember in preparing for this conversation are: early, empathize, educate and evaluate.