While the majority of older Americans are attracted to the idea of aging at home, according to the Department of Health and Human Services 70% of adults aged 65 and over will need some form of long-term care. Additionally, with every year that passes, their chance of needing care increases.
When a parent is unable to care for themself and needs help with everyday tasks like bathing, getting around, dressing and making meals, it may be time to consider a nursing home or an assisted living facility.
For adult children, talking to their aging parents about such a move can be tough and cause a great deal of stress for the entire family, but there are times when it needs to happen.
But how do you even start? Your parents have spent their lives not only attending to their own daily needs, but also managing the daily needs of others. Giving up the ability to drive or cook for themselves isn’t just about not being able to do these things for themselves, but also about the larger and scary issue of losing independence.
So be as direct as possible. Some parents are also in denial about needing care and help, which can also make the conversation difficult. You should provide evidence of why they need help: Point out aimless wandering, forgetting to turn off the stove, forgetting to take medication and the dangers that came with these actions.
If they say no at first, be patient but keep the dialogue going. After something dangerous or worrisome occurs, they will either be willing or be forced to address the situation. As much as you might want to resolve everything immediately, the reality is this will likely take some time and a number of conversations. Unless your parent is in immediate danger, that’s okay. It’s a process, not a once-and-done discussion.
It’s also important to make it clear to parents they’re not a burden and you’re not trying pass off their care and simply want them to have the best options and lifestyle.
If possible, ask what they want from a facility, including location and amenities, to get them involved in the decision.
The good news? Once you start the conversation it gets easier to keep it going. Not only that, your parents will enjoy the peace of mind of knowing they’re planning for their long-term care.