The toughest decision: How to talk with aging parents about moving into an assisted living facility
It’s an expected shift, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy task.
The roles are reversed. Parents who have raised their children are now being cared for by the adult children they raised. And if you’re in the “Sandwich Generation,” you’re not only caring for your aging parents, but you’re still supporting your own children
Knowing when the time is right for your parents to consider transitioning into an assisted living facility is a big decision, said Dr. Dina Evan, a Valley executive and relationship coach. Evan said the first thing to look for are signs that indicate aging parents are having a difficult time managing.
“These signs can include an inability to care for the living space, an inability to prepare for meals or manage medications safely,” Evan says.
Once you feel it’s time to consider assisted living, explore and investigate available options. This will allow you to approach the situation with more information and offer solutions that don’t necessarily mean an aging parents has to move into another home.
“Being knowledgeable is the key,” says Barbara Molmod, general manager of El Dorado of Sun City. “There are financial considerations, location of facility, and, of course, deciding on what level of care is needed now and for the future.”
One way to approach the situation with aging parents is by discussing the perks of the possible change.
“Instead of discussing why they need to have further assistance, discuss how having further assistance — whether it be in their home or in a facility — can reduce loneliness and increase the quality life of each day.
“For the most part, it is important for a parent to know they are loved and that is why this decision is being made,” Molmod says. “A decision made out of love and concern for a parent’s welfare will be a good decision.”
Evan and Molmod also stress the importance of working together as a team, where everyone involved in the decision has equal say.
“As much as possible, allow elderly parents to make as many of the decisions as they can,” Evan says.
You should also be knowledgeable about your parents’ wishes before decision-making is too difficult for them, Molmod adds.
When the kids start “(taking) power away from parents who have had it their entire lives and are adjusting to diminished power in multiple ways already,” difficulty arises, Evan says. Discuss the choices, and give them time to digest.
In addition to being cognizant of your parents’ sense of loss of control and offering the choices, don’t forget the third “C” — compassion. This transition is something virtually everyone goes through. It’s a normal process, so when things get touchy, take a step back and relax. Remember this: someday you’ll be going through the same situation with your kids.
“Make sure that you laugh together about the odd circumstances, discomforts and difficulties that arise in the process, and there is less blame and shame assigned to anyone,” Evan says. “The mantra is: more choice, more laughter, more compassion.”
Another way to avoid conflict and arguments is to not only avoid taking control, but avoid trying to convince your parents, too.
“Explain that although none of the options may feel ‘good,’ some are better than others,” Evan says. “If none of the choices appeal to the parents, align with them about the difficulty in making these decisions.”
It’s a tough transition, but with the right preparation and approach, you can avoid turning it into a negative experience.
“Not only are our parents facing uncertainty of their own mortality, but they are being asked at the moment of their deepest feelings of fragility to accept major changes in their life,” Evan says. “Most of all, remember that this aging is a natural and normal process, and everyone in it needs to breathe. After a bit of time has passed, and new surroundings get more familiar, everyone will start getting comfortable with the changes and a sense of normalcy will return.”
For more information about how to speak with your parents about moving into an assisted living facility:
Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan
El Dorado of Sun City
10330 W. Thunderbird Blvd., Sun City