The time has come for my brother and me to talk with our father about moving to an assisted living community here in the Columbus area. From falls to car accidents to poor nutrition, he just isn’t safe living in his old house any longer.
We just know it is time to make a change before dad really hurts himself.
I can’t tell you how much we dread this conversation! Our father is very stubborn and won’t go without a fight.
Do you have any suggestions for how we tackle this topic with our dad?
Talking with a Parent about Assisted Living
We have had this question from so many adult children! Most say it is the toughest conversation of their life. Even though you know you are doing what is best for your father’s safety, it can still be difficult.
It sounds like your dad is already exhibiting some of the typical warning signs -- falls, poor nutrition, unsafe to drive, difficulty keeping up the home -- that signal it is time for a change.
Here are a few tips other families have tried and found to be successful in encouraging a parent to make this move:
Create a Plan: Begin by sitting down with your brother or communicating with him through a video chat service such as Skype if an in-person meeting isn’t possible. Make a list of both of your concerns (i.e. the falls and car accidents you mentioned) and the tasks your dad seems to be struggling with. A united front will be important when you speak with your father.
Research Local Options: It sounds like you may have done some research already and come to the conclusion that assisted living is the best option for your dad. Before you start a conversation with him, it might be best for you and your brother to research local assisted living communities and tour those that seem like a good fit. Once you have narrowed down the list to 2 or 3 options, you can confidently sit down to talk with your dad.
Begin “the talk” by asking your father a few general questions on how he is doing. While it sounds like you think he will resist moving, you might be surprised to find out that he is frightened of change, but also frightened to be home alone when he isn’t safe. Make sure you and your brother allow a whole day for this conversation to take place.
A few conversation starters to consider might be:
How are you managing the yard? It seems like a lot of work to keep up.
Have you been to the doctor lately? What did she say about your nutrition and weight?
When was the last time you had the oil changed in the car? Is the upkeep on the car getting to be too much?
Is it hard to prepare meals for yourself?
Two final tips are also important: listen with empathy to what your dad has to say and be patient.
If he is resistant, rushing him or getting angry may make him even more difficult. Remember, this will likely be a series of conversations that you have to have with your dad and isn’t usually something that can be worked out in a single family meeting.
Best of luck to your family, Diana. Please let us know if you would like to tour any of our Columbus area assisted living communities. We’d love to show you around and have you stay for lunch!