Your parents worked so hard to give you a comfortable, happy life growing up. They are the two people that cared for you and anticipated all your needs more than anyone else in your life. To think about these two capable, loving, caring people being unable to care even for themselves can sound strange. For loving children, it can be a heartrending realization that their parents are growing old and are no longer able to do all the things that everyone around took for granted. If so, the idea of moving your parents to an assisted living facility has probably already occurred to you. This itself can at first seem like an extreme step; an idea that the mind shies away from. So, ask yourself: Are you ready? Are your parents ready?
Is it time to have the talk about moving to assisted care?
Firstly, you need to make a detailed assessment of the situation. Examine the practical aspects of your parents’ home: Is it elder-friendly or can modifications be made to accommodate increasing immobility? Are the bathrooms safe for them to use or is there a danger of falls and accidents? Are there a lot of stairs and can a ramp or stair lift be installed to ease the situation? Also assess other factors such as their home’s distance from medical facilities should there be any kind of emergency.
Assess the extent to which your parents now appear to need care. Are they still able to drive to wherever they need to go around Tampa, or do they need assistance? Is there any mental or physical infirmity that needs supervision or special care? Have you noted any rapid weight loss or mood changes? Have there been any recent episodes that convince you that your parents would be happier, healthier and better looked after in assisted living? Once you’ve answered all these questions, you can make a clear and reasoned decision about your course of action.
Are you convinced about this?
This is important. If you plan to speak to your parents about moving to assisted living, ensure that you yourself believe this to be necessary. Whenever possible, make sure that your siblings are on board, too. Rise above the whole stigma attached to assisted living and don’t be worried about what others in the family will say. Don’t wonder about how your friends seem to be managing with their elderly parents. Everyone has a different set of circumstances within which they have to choose what is best – and this goes for you and your siblings as well. In fact, and it may not come as a surprise, as per a 2009 report, most seniors who make the transition to assisted living end up liking it much better than they expected, even going on to state that they wish they’d done it sooner.
So you have to make decisions based on the realities of your own home and living conditions, your financial and time resources, and the assessment you make about the needs of your parents. Are you convinced that your parents are better off in an environment where they are looked after and helped with day to day chores, attention is always available and where living areas are adapted to senior living? Where there are friends to be made and shared activities to enjoy? In that case, you are ready to have the talk with mom or dad. So, here are the steps to ensure that you have made a decision and that it is the right one for your set of circumstances.
Do your research and become fully informed.
If you’ve made your decision about assisted living, you can then start to look at all your options based on where you live and the level of care your parents need. Take into account any special needs your parents may have: mobility issues, medical conditions, need for hospital visits and so on. Take into consideration the activities your parents enjoy doing, the kind of friends they enjoy having, the environment in which they thrive. Shortlist a few places that cater to their needs and personalities, places where you feel they would be happy and comfortable. Look for pleasant environs, a good elder-to-caregiver ratio, welcoming communities, and places where the elderly seem to be happy and loving this chapter of life.
Choose the right time.
Take the time out for a proper, reasoned, heartfelt discussion where you tell your parents about the concerns you have and why their declining autonomy raises a need for action. Don’t make an offhand comment or a thinly asserted question like it might be time we look into options, huh? Try not to have the discussion when there are many other people around; at an occasion such as a birthday or a holiday get-together. Pick a quiet moment when your parents are likely to be receptive to a new idea. The idea of moving may need some time to get used to. Offer to take a break on the subject and then be sure to come back to it at the right time again.
Honestly tell them about your apprehensions: a medical emergency in the middle of the night, a possible fall or other injury, increasing infirmity that makes them further unable to manage by themselves. And let it be a discussion, not a demand. Make it a point to listen, really listen to what they have to say. If they are shy about meeting new people, offer to help. If they are concerned about all of their things, be ready with solutions. Speak with our amazing staff members at (813) 543 – VITA (8482) to get answers to questions that arise in their mind. Address concerns that they have about the whole idea and try to ease their apprehensions. They did this for you every step of the way as you grew older, now it is your turn. Be kind, be patient, but above all, be responsible.
Make it a mutual decision with everyone on board – one that works for everyone, including you.