You need to have the conversation

It’s important to have the conversation with your parents when it’s time to move into assisted living. Now, I want you to think about this for a moment. It’s going to be very awkward. It can be odd and feel uncomfortable and a lot like the roles have reversed. When you’re a kid, you listen to your parents and do what they tell you to do. When you become a young adult, you become independent, remembering back to the lessons that you learned. But as your loved ones get older they start to need help and rely on us much more. So at some point, they may need assisted living. Let me share with you some of the elements that might be a part of that conversation.

Will they lose their independence?

That adult has been independent for so long and they’re not gonna ask you for help. But when they get in that car, you know and they know too, they are in grave danger because they can not see that well, they can’t respond that well. At night there are “stars” in their eyes. They can’t see out the windshield because of headlights coming towards them. Yet if they have to get somewhere they’re going to get in that car and go. So that’s usually the first conversation a lot of people have, “hey you know what, mom, instead of you driving the car, I think you should call us to help you.” You may have to take their license away, the car away, the keys away, and at some point, the realization is it’s not a maybe, it’s a, we have to. You just took away their driving privileges. Now you have to decide with your parents what that looks like and what that really means, but that loss of freedom is a big one. Imagine how you would feel if you were not able to do things that you used to be able to do. You can see how frustrating is for them.

Is there any way to make the transition easier?

Many times a senior, when they’re younger and not as in need, transitions better into senior housing. That’s more of an independent living situation where they’re in their own kind of townhome or apartment but they also have access to a cafeteria and group activities. But most seniors would rather stay in their own home. They’d rather have their own independence.

One very good way to transition is to have them volunteer at a home. They can go in and play cards, make a puzzle, or read to those people. They become friends with them, do some activities, go visit once, twice, or three times, and then when it comes time to move into the home, it’s not as foreign to them.

Another way is that you as a family caregiver, sometimes you need a break. You can bring somebody into the home on a respite, from a couple of days to a week or two.  And if they have a good experience, someday when you bring them there that transition could be very natural.

At some point, something has to be done and somebody has to make that decision. So you really do need to be prepared to have that conversation.

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