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What Parents Want: Helping Mom and Dad Find Senior Care

By Michelle Seitzer, SeniorsForLiving.com

Your family has nominated you to find a senior living community for Mom and Dad, who have no interest in moving at all.

Sound like a familiar scenario?

Finding a place is one thing, and getting your parents on board with the decision is another. Both challenges are stressful in their own way and are currently stressing out boomers and adult children across the country (to be exact, 10 million over the age of 50, says a recent report from the MetLife Mature Market Institute).

First, exhale, relax your shoulders, and stop pulling out your hair. You are not alone, and there are resources available to guide you and help you talk to your parents about the senior living transition.

Even though your parents may not want to discuss such a change, you shouldn’t start researching communities without knowing what they want. Ask your parents to make a list of their preferences. Do they want a large community where they can meet lots of people or hide in the crowds? Do they want a cozier, close-knit community where everyone knows each other and looks out for each other? Rural or suburban? Apartment, condo, or a small cottage? Lots of planned activities and outings? Three meals a day, or a kitchen in the apartment to prepare their own meals?

Another way to narrow things down is based on the type of care they need or may need in the future. The latter becomes somewhat of a guessing game, but if either is at risk for dementia or one is already in the early stages, you may want to look at a continuing care community where the ability to transition into a different level of care is an option should the need arise.

From there, you can further search for senior housing on the web, plugging in the desired city and state (who knows – maybe your parents would like to relocate) and finding results accordingly in a number of categories: home care, Alzheimer’s care, assisted living, independent living, and more. Choose a few communities that stand out and make appointments to tour the facilities in person at least once before making a final decision. Tip: Touring communities and discussing the likes and dislikes should be done together to ensure that everyone is happy at the end.

You may want to present your top three options to the whole family for their approval, but it really comes down to what your parents want and what they can afford – so make sure they have the final say.

Michelle Seitzer spent 10 years filling various roles at assisted living communities in Pennsylvania and Maryland, then worked as a public policy coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association in PA before settling down as a full-time freelance writer. Seitzer also served as a long-distance caregiver for her beloved grandfather, who died of complications from Alzheimer’s in 2009. She has blogged for SeniorsforLiving.com, which provides information on assisted living, home care, and Alzheimer’s care, since November 2008, and is the co-moderator of the first #ElderCareChat on Twitter, held every other Wednesday at 1pm EST. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.