Many of you will be visiting loved ones, perhaps for the first time in a while, this holiday season. Perhaps you just got together for Thanksgiving. Or, maybe you are putting off your visit due to COVID and are feeling all the more anxious not seeing them.
Perhaps you’ve noticed some things that trouble you when talking to your elderly parents. Or, you’re just concerned that they have been so isolated and may be declining. The holidays may really bring home the thought that your parent needs assisted living. So, if you’re feeling this way, what should you be doing right now?
Observe and Assess
Now is a good time to get a more objective handle on what’s going on with your parent(s). Sometimes our emotions...anxiety and fear especially...cause us to jump to the conclusion that our parent needs assisted living. Instinctually, we want them to be safe and assisted living often feels like it would offer peace of mind. So, we may be coming at it more from this perspective (and our own needs) than an objective evaluation.
When we spend time together, we can take some time to observe how they’re doing and notice things more closely. If we aren’t physically together, we can start doing this by phone and asking the right questions.
Check out our recent “Ask a Care Manager" video for more on this topic:
Our experts also shared our tips on making sure your loved ones are safe at home and you can download our free Wellness Check Questionnaire. Though these were developed due to the pandemic, much of the information applies to elderly parents living at home anytime. It is especially important to ask about specific behaviors instead of asking questions like “How are you doing?”
While this is a good starting point, a professional assessment is the ideal way to truly evaluate what is happening. Not only will a care manager have an objective viewpoint, they offer expertise and experience.
And, they can take an evaluation and match it up with personalized recommendations. You might think your parent needs assisted living because you don’t know about all the resources available or aren’t sure how to manage them. Once you know what the issues are, you need to know what to do. And, that’s another area where the care manager can be invaluable.
If you’ve worked with a care manager, they can assist with formulating an approach. They can actually help guide the conversations too. Whether you’re working with a care manager or not, here are some of their tips for families in this situation:
- Do not have the talk at a holiday gathering. Here’s why and what to do instead.
- It shouldn’t be “the” talk, but a conversation that takes place over time...and with time. We shared more about this before and highly recommend the TEMPO method to improve the tone and outcome of the conversations. If you decide your parent needs assisted living, bring it up suddenly, and hope you’ll have them convinced to move after “the talk”, you’re probably going to fail. We don’t mean to be discouraging, but we promise there is a better way. Just think of it from their perspective and you’ll immediately see why this approach doesn’t work.
- Build an approach based on motivation. The M in TEMPO is for “motivation”. This includes talking about what they want, not what you think they need. And, listening. In listening, you can uncover their fears and objections to better address them. We also encourage taking advantage of “windows of opportunity” which are really moments of motivation or necessity. It may be easier to make a change when your parent has a planned surgery or needs help after a hospitalization or illness. Similarly, when you share stories and discuss experiences from people they know, it hits home more than scare tactics or statistics.
I truly think my parent needs assisted living. But, is now the right time given the pandemic?
This is absolutely an important question. We have worked with some families who have brought loved ones home from ALFs during the COVID crisis. Or, they may feel their parent needs assisted living but decide not to make the move for now.
Though this can lead to some tough choices, we are also pleased that families are examining pros and cons more closely. Anytime your family is making such a big decision, you need to understand the full picture. And, nowadays, that includes the reality of COVID restrictions and safety. If you want to get input from professionals who are on the front lines in the local area, we are always here to help! Contact us to set up a time to talk or call us at 727-447-5845.