How to Bring Up "The Move" to Elderly Parents
We often envision our parents in their prime. However, sometimes as children we fail to recognize that our parents aren’t quite as sharp as they once were, and the immortalized image we have of our parents as our first childhood heroes overshadows the present truth that people grow old, and there’s no turning back the clocks.
How to Talk to Your Elderly Parents about Moving
There will come a time when that tough, no-nonsense father struggles to walk up and down the steps, and mother has trouble holding the pencil still to outline her lips to the perfection she once did. No one wants to be the person who first mutters the words, moving or assisted living, but sometimes a little help can go a long way, and a senior living community could introduce new hobbies, start new friendships, and even prevent a parent from suffering a life-altering injury, such as falling down the steps, slipping in the shower, or having a stroke.
As a concerned child, an elderly parent’s best interest is at heart, but the mere mention of moving to a nursing home or retirement community can come across as cold and even introduce feelings of abandonment. However, that is the very mindset that needs to be reworked, because there are many benefits that come with the move, it’s just up to the children and elderly parents to determine which style of housing best suits their needs.
Beginning the Conversation
- Indirectly bring up the move. Make a statement followed by a question such as, “Annie and Earl recently moved into a retirement community and love it, is that something you would consider?” This allows children or relatives the chance to get a feel of the situation and determine how an elderly parent would react to a talk about moving.
- Be open and honest. This is a time to raise concern and avoid criticism. Express how worrisome it is imagining a parent falling down the steps, but don’t speak in a way that would make a parent feel guilty or ashamed that they need a little help.
- Assess the needs of an elderly parent. Does father require round the clock medication, or does mother get uncomfortable without her cat? Work together to address daily living needs so it’s easier to find the best living fit in the near future.
- Respect their feelings. It’s known that you can’t fight fire with fire, so remain calm regardless of their reaction. Also, if an elderly parent becomes uncomfortable with the subject, don’t push it. Bring up the topic again at a later time.
- Firmly address concerns. While elderly parents may be capable of handling most of what life throws their way, there comes a time when there are issues parents are unaware of, or simply avoid. Stand by beliefs, but express them with compassion.
- Be prepared to hear “no.” At the end of the day, our parents make their own choices, even if it’s hard to agree with their lifestyle choice. Observe their behavior, and know when to take a step back and when to intervene.
Understanding Community Options
- Assisted Living: These facilities offer a housing alternative for older adults who may need help with dressing, bathing, eating, and toileting, but do not require the intensive medical and nursing care provided in nursing homes. Assisted living facilities may be part of a retirement community, nursing home, senior housing complex, or may stand-alone. Licensing requirements for assisted living facilities vary by state and can be known by as many as 26 different names including: residential care, board and care, congregate care, and personal care.
- Retirement Community: A retirement community is a housing complex designed specifically for the elderly. Generally, those in a community are able to care for themselves, but the homes may have some additions geared for seniors such as shower bars, an elevator, or built-in medical alert system.
- Nursing Home: A nursing home is a residence that cares for those who are chronically ill or unable to care for themselves.
It should be easy to understand how surprised an elderly parent may be when confronted with a suggestion to move, and can we blame them? It’s hard to leave a home behind, ingrained with so many memories, but there may come a time when a large home is too much to maintain, or maybe an old home just doesn’t meet someone’s needs anymore. Regardless of one’s situation, put the conversation in motion, we believe in you!