Sibling relationships become increasingly important as you reach adulthood, especially once it’s time to make decisions about your parents. Those pesky little brothers and protective older sisters suddenly stand to be your allies as you strive to make sure your loved ones are safe and happy.
Things can get a little more complicated when it’s time to make a big decision like moving to assisted living. Ideally, you’ll present your case and your siblings will be open-minded to the idea. But the goal isn’t to convince your family members.
Instead, focus on coming to a decision as a group, with all of you agreeing on the best course of action. Here are a few tips that can help you prepare for that all-too-important conversation.
Chances are, if you’re planning this conversation, you’ve been thinking about assisted living for your parent for a while. Your siblings and other family members may not have thought about it at all. Before you approach them, research and prepare as many facts as you can. Be prepared to show photos and video of the assisted living community you’re considering to help them to visualize the life your parent will have there.
Choose the Right Time and Place
Thanksgiving dinner may not be the best time to bring up the topic of assisted living, especially if the parent in question is seated at the table. Instead, schedule a time for all involved family members, including spouses if you prefer, to sit down and discuss the topic. Hopefully, you’ll all be able to meet face to face, but if you have to schedule a videoconference session, be prepared to share visuals about the community you’re considering during the call.
Keep the Focus on the Parents
Like any other family, yours probably has past issues that can sometimes get in the way of productive communication. You may even have one or two different personality types among the group. If the conversation starts to drift, shift it back to the older adult you all love and emphasize why this move may be merited. A parent who frequently falls, for instance, may be in danger. The focus of the conversation should remain on your parent as much as possible.
Involve a Mediator
The truth is, existing issues can sometimes cloud everyone’s judgment. When that’s the case, sometimes a professional can come in and help smooth things out. Many family counselors routinely work with families as they work to resolve issues like older adult care. A family friend or older relative could also come in and serve as a mediator if you don’t want to go the professional route.
Come to a Decision
If you’ve presented your case and your loved ones won’t budge, you’ll need to come up with a plan. There’s likely a reason that you've felt that it’s time to have this conversation. Ask your siblings to come up with an alternate proposal to make sure your older loved one is healthy and happy. You may even suggest trying another option and revisiting the assisted living option in a few months if their idea doesn’t work out.
As parents age, children are often faced with challenging decisions. However, once younger family members realize the many benefits an assisted living community offers, they realize it was a great choice. Not only is their loved one happier, but they also have the peace of mind of knowing they’re safe and well cared for when they can’t be on hand to help.
If you’re considering assisted or independent living for your parent, use our free eBook as a guide to finding the perfect home for them.