So you’ve made a few phone calls and gathered some information. You may have even toured on your own and now it’s time to bring your parent on a tour of an assisted living home. Here are a few suggestions for making your visit a comfortable and non-threatening experience for your mom or dad:
1) Avoid talking about your mom as though she’s not there. The role reversal involved in caring for a parent is awkward for everyone. Discussing a parent’s medical or memory issues should always be done with respect and tact. Interrupting your parent or talking about her as you would about a child only adds to her feelings of frustration. Even if your parent gives incorrect information, wait until an appropriate time to communicate the right answer.
2) Be picky about who you invite to tour with you. A visit to assisted living involves taking in a large amount of information while dealing with sensitive emotions. Bringing too many family members at once can overwhelm your parent. Everyone will begin to chime in their thoughts and questions and too many people talking at once can create confusion. Large families should arrange a separate visit so that everyone can get their questions answered without making mom feel inundated.
3) Allow enough time. A parent’s visit to his or her prospective assisted living home should not be rushed. You want to give your mom or dad enough time to relax, ask questions, and take in the details. Hurrying through your visit may make your parent feel pressured or railroaded, which may cause her to shut down. Allow yourself and your parent an appropriate amount of time to devote to such a big decision.
4) Let dad build his own relationship with the assisted living staff. Try hanging back a little and letting your parent take the lead by asking his questions or making his comments directly to the staff. Remember, you are asking your parent to consider spending every day around these people. If your dad can develop a trusting relationship with the assisted living staff members, you’ll both feel better in the long run.
5) Be prepared for whatever reaction your parent may have. Go ahead and accept that your mom may repeat herself or your dad may ask questions you think are inappropriate. She may be irritable or he may refuse to speak at all. Don’t let yourself be caught off guard or lose your temper. Stay positive and remain focused on the reasons you are visiting assisted living. Keep your words and actions intentional and try not to react emotionally.
An in-person visit to assisted living can be the key to soothing your parent’s fears and setting her mind at ease. You want to use this visit to help your mom or dad get past fears and evaluate if assisted living is a good way to meet his or her needs. By preparing yourself ahead of time, and remembering these tips, you will make the most of your parent’s visit to assisted living.