Most parents don’t wish to be a burden to their children, so when they arrive at a stage in their lives where they may need some additional help, they may be reluctant to share their discovery.  Transitioning to assisted living or to the home of one of their children confirms to them that they are entering their less than golden years.  That’s why it’s best to begin the discussion with your parents earlier rather than later.  This way, there is no pressure to force them out of their home and into an alternative living situation in a hurry.

One of the first things that must be considered about assisted living is its cost.  Two times in the last month, friends of mine have mentioned that “when the time comes”, they’ll simply move to assisted living rather than burden their children.  But assisted living can cost anywhere from $2500.00 a month for a very basic dwelling to more than $7000.00 a month depending upon the amenities available there and upon the medical needs of the resident.   Both of my friends were very surprised to hear this.

But when examing these numbers, one must also be aware of the costs of living at home.  By comparing the costs of  home maintenance, insurances, utilities, food, property taxes, possibly a mortage and maybe a gardener and/or housekeeper, one might find that assisted living is less expensive than remaining in the home.  Most assisted living facilities have free transportation so there may not be a need to maintain an automobile either, which would be an additional savings.

If you feel that your parent or parents may be struggling to maintain their home or that they may not be safe there anymore, one way to begin the discussion about transitioning to assisted living is to watch television together and comment on news stories or programs  relating to the difficulties of aging.  Ask how they are doing in relation to the situation you see on television.  Is Mom managing the grocery shopping and cooking without difficulty?  Can Dad still mow the lawn?  Are there small things that can be done to make their life easier or are they at the point where assisted living might actually be a more joyful experience?

Point out the positive aspects of  assisted living…nutritious meals are available; there are crafts and games in which to participate; there are often off-campus field trips;  housekeeping is included; the lawn is always mowed and there are lots of social opportunities.

If they happen to have any friends or other relatives who have moved to assisted living, ask how they are doing.  They may have somepositive or negative experiences which you can explore more thoroughly.  Offer to take them there to visit these friends so that they can get a feel for the surroundings and what is available to them.

Many of our aging loved ones are not aware of the differences between assisted living and nursing homes and therefore may have an unnecessary negative opinion of them.  They may also be embarrassed to discuss the fact that they feel they may be ready for some help with their activities of daily living.

Assisted living is not for everyone, but it’s good to have the discussion early so that everyone will be on the same page when the time comes to make a decision about some different living arrangements.


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