Elder Care Thought Leader: Cynthia Perthuis
In our first two articles, we covered “Assessing the Need for Assisted Living Before Having the Talk” and “Having the Talk: Preparation is Key to a Successful Conversation about Assisted Living.”
If you haven’t read them, we recommend you read them before reading this one.
Have The Talk:
You have done your research. You know your loved one needs to move into an assisted living or memory care community. Moreover, you have calculated that it is too expensive to stay at home and you do not have the energy to manage home care. You have done your research on assisted living or memory care communities in your area. You have considered what will be important for your loved one in this next phase. Now it is time to Have The Talk.
“Choose a time when everyone is relaxed and free from time constraints.”
Time and Place:
Select a comfortable and private setting for the conversation. This could be in the living room, over a cup of tea, or in a quiet place where distractions are minimal. Make sure your loved one is comfortable and can leave the conversation if it gets too intense for them. Timing is crucial. Choose a time when everyone is relaxed and free from time constraints. Turn off cell phones and avoid distractions. Do not add stress with a distracting environment.
Broaching The Topic Of Assisted Living:
To begin, approach with empathy and love. Express your love and concern for their well-being. Use a warm and empathetic tone to let them know you’re approaching this subject out of care and respect. Use “I” or “We” statements to convey feelings rather than placing blame or making demands. For instance, “I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can ensure you’re getting the best care possible.” Or, “We love you and we notice it seems like you are not happy here all by yourself all the time. We want you to be happy.” Remind them that the decision is theirs.
Share Your Motivation:
Explain that your primary goal is to ensure their safety, happiness, and comfort. Assure them that your intentions are to find the best possible solution for their needs. Let them know that this is not about their money. This is about how you can help them live the life they want. A life that is safe, happy and free from danger.
Listen and Validate:
Let your parents express their thoughts and concerns. Listen actively without interrupting and validate their emotions. Acknowledge their fears and uncertainties and let them know their feelings are completely valid. Remind them you are not trying to take over their life and that it is hard for you too. Acknowledge your own fears and uncertainties. Keep your tone calm and engaging.
“No one should be interrupted while talking.”
Everyone Gets a Turn:
Everyone should have the opportunity to speak. Only one person is allowed to talk at a time. No one should be interrupted while talking. You do not want this to devolve into an intervention or make it feel like moving is a done deal that they have no say in.
Focus on the Positive:
Highlight the positive aspects of assisted living. Discuss how it can alleviate some of the stress and responsibilities they might be feeling. Mention the opportunities for new friendships, engaging activities, and the chance to focus on their well-being. Offer to take them to go look at them. Tell them you are curious, and you would like to see what they are like. Remind them that often times you can schedule an appointment for a mealtime and you will get to try the food out.
Overcoming Objections Related To Assisted Living:
Many people are afraid of losing their independence. Often times Assisted Living can enhance their independence by taking care of the things they no longer want to do. It can enable them to have their needs met without being a burden on their family. People are also worried about not having privacy. Assure them they will have their own room and they can retreat when needed but they can also make good friends and enjoy new activities.
“Big topics need room to breathe.”
Allow for Space:
Big topics need room to breathe. Remind your loved one of your commitment to them first and remain open to future conversations. In our next article What to Do After “Having The Talk” about Assisted Living we will share with you steps on moving forward.
We encourage you to read the next article in this series “Having The Talk” before you begin the process or have a conversation with your loved one. If you need help examining your loved one’s situation, there are resources.
Please Note: Additional resources can be found in Author’s Bio below.
About the Author:
Cynthia Perthuis left her cushy life in Corporate America in 2018 to use her personal experience with her parents and her entrepreneurial background to help the 10,000 people a day turning 65 in the US. The stress of helping aging loved ones and working full-time and caring for her own family while living over 1500 miles apart was overwhelming at times. She often wished there was a non-conflicted industry professional to help when facing these life-changing decisions. She has created her team at Senior Care Authority (www.scanyfl.com) for that purpose. Her team supports over 300 families a year as they navigate these decisions. Please call us at (239) 330-2133 or (212) 913-9963 for a free consultation.