Talking About Assisted Living With Family Members

If you are one of the adult children of an aging parent who you believe would benefit by moving into an assisted living community, you may wonder how to address such an issue with other family members. The reality is that discussing with your siblings (and other family members) the idea of your parent moving to assisted living can seem daunting. You may intuitively recognize that your individual siblings may have different responses to the idea of your parent transitioning into an assisted living community. With this in mind, this article is designed to provide you with some guidance in regard to how to broach the subject and then discuss the possibility of your parent moving to an assisted living community. 

Four-Part Plan to Discuss with Siblings Your Parent Transitioning to Assisted Living

The best way to discuss a subject like the prospect of your mother or father moving to assisted living is to have a plan. A four-step plan is presented for your consideration:

  • Beginning the discussion
  • Exploring options
  • Building a family consensus
  • Turning thoughts and proposals into action

How to Begin the Discussion

Dynamics between siblings and others can vary rather significantly from one family to another. Therefore, you must temper the suggestions put forth in this article in light of the unique dynamics associated with your own family. 

Ultimately, the objective is to have a family discussion that brings your parent’s children together as a group to explore the prospect of your parent transitioning into an assisted living community. In most instances, the best course is not to jump immediately into a group discussion. Rather, a recommendation to consider is to reach out to each sibling or other involved family members individually. 

By connecting individually with each of your siblings or other family members you place yourself in a decent position of coming to an understanding of where each person stands in relation to your parent moving into an assisted living community. 

You may identify a family member (perhaps more than one) that essentially is on the same page as you are in regards to considering your parent transitioning from living on his or her own to assisted living. Perhaps that sibling or other family member should assist you in organizing the family meeting and visiting with others individually.

The first family meeting should not be a crowded affair. In other words, you will want to consider limiting it to siblings. Ultimately, a meeting involving more people in the family (adult grandchildren, spouses of siblings, and so forth). 

Try as you may to get everyone together at one time can be challenging. If you can get most people together for an initial meeting, you will want to consider holding it with a commitment to try to ensure anyone who missed the first session is at the next one. 

We’ve all learned the benefits of digital communications during the global pandemic. When it comes to getting siblings and other family members to discuss the prospect of assisted living for an aging parent, seriously consider taking advantage of resources like Zoom. 

Explore Possibilities

The focus of the first meeting to discuss the prospect of your parent transitioning to assisted living is two-pronged:

  1. Identify and discuss the state of your parent’s health and wellness
  2. Discuss and identify options available to your parent to best meet his or her needs

When considering the state of your parent’s health and wellness, there are some specific points you and your siblings (or other family members) should focus on:

  • Parent’s overall physical health
  • Parent’s behavior
  • Parent’s overall emotional and mental health
  • Parent’s specific needs
  • Parent’s ability to deal with activities of daily living

Once you and your siblings consider the current state of your parent’s health and wellness, you will want to explore where you anticipate your mother or father will be in regard to his health and wellness in three months, six months and then a year down the road.

After an examination of parental needs, the discussion should move to a consideration of options available:

  • In-home care
  • Assisted living
  • Nursing home

Unless your parent has developed serious health problems rather suddenly, and unless you parent really just needs a bit of assistance here and there, the most suitable option for your parent is likely to be assisted living. Understanding that assisted living is the best option for your mother of father, you will then need to consider the various assisted living options that are available to your mother or father. 

An idea might be to identify specific assisted living communities that appear to meet your parent’s needs. These communities can be divided between you are your sibling. You can each visit assigned communities for tours. When you conduct the next meeting, your family can report back on what they have learned through their respective tours. 

Build Family Consensus

Depending on the dynamics of your family, depending on the relationship you have with your siblings, depending on the mindset of those involved in the process, reaching a consensus about what to propose to your parent about assisted living may prove to be the biggest challenge in this process. There are times when striving to obtain family consensus about what to recommend to a parent is more challenging than working with a parent to determine whether moving to assisted living makes sense.

Having said that, the possibility does exist that your family will be unanimous in agreeing that assisted living makes sense and in agreeing on a specific assisted living community to propose to your mother or father.

While unanimity is possible, the more likely turn of events is that there may be family members who object outright to the idea of your parent going to assisted living. There may be general agreement on the needs for something like assisted living, but strong differences as to which assisted living community to recommend to your mother or father. 

The opinions of all people in the family group need to be heard. Let the discussion run its natural course. While you don’t want to let the meeting run on forever, you should let it carry on for as long as reasonably possible to attempt to gain a consensus. 

If it simply is not possible to gain a consensus during a particular meeting, break for the time with a commitment to gather together again in a few days to pick up the discission once more. 

Taking Action

Assuming that family members ultimately do reach a general consensus on your parent moving to assisted living, and an idea as to which community makes the most sense for your mother or father, the time has arrived to take action. In fact, your family group might be wise to suggest two or three possible assisted living community alternatives for your parent to allow your mother or father the ability to make a final decision. 

The first step is to bring your parent into the process, if that has not already occurred. In the end, a move to assisted living is the ultimate decision of your parent. 

If your parent concurs with the plan developed by the family, the process of transitioning your parent into assisted living can commence. Ideally, this is also a process that involves you and your siblings and other family members close to your parent.