Talking to Asian Parents about Senior Living Choices
In our Asian culture, speaking about senior living choices are often taboo. Traditional expectations of caring for our parents till their old age persists, often unspoken but expected. Given the multiple constraints facing a caregiving adult, ranging from financial, lack of medical expertise, stress, to multiple other responsibilities, this may not be a viable option. Caregiving stress could result in tension between siblings or spouses.
Are there other ways for dutiful children to demonstrate filial piety? Yes! Ultimately, there is more than one option when it comes to giving your parents the best quality of life.
Some of these options may be unconventional in Asian culture. Yet, it often ends up in a win-win situation for both parties. This article is designed to help you start the conversation with your conservative parents on senior living choices.
Before the Conversation
· List down the concerns you have about your elderly parents
· Educate yourself on the options available and the pros and cons of each option
· Have a prior discussion with other caregivers (e.g. your siblings, spouse, in-laws) to agree on options to be presented to your parents
· Pick a suitable time to broach the subject gently
During the Conversation
· Have this important conversation in person if possible, else a video call
· Begin by highlighting how important your parents’ wellbeing is to you
· Some conversations starters:
o How do you feel about living at home alone? Do you still feel safe? (You may want to gently highlight prior incidents of concern e.g. a fall, managing medication)
o Do you feel lonely? Would you like to spend more time with people your own age?
o Would you like a helping hand with the cooking, laundry, and house chores?
o Do you feel bored as all of us are busy with our day-to-day life?
o What will make your day more enjoyable?
· Do not make them feel like a burden to you, instead show them how this could be a good experience for them
· Having your siblings, spouse, and/or in-laws present could improve the outcome of the conversation
· Come prepared with pictures, videos, brochures etc.
· Slowly begin discussing a few senior living options and describe how their lives would improve
· Pick a few aspects that may excite them, such as delicious meals, physiotherapy, or having friends
· Pause and gauge their response regularly to assess if you should proceed or continue at a different time
· Maintain a calm, composed tone throughout the conversation
After the Conversation
· Give your parents time to think about it
· Offer to give them a tour of the facility or speak to nurses/caregivers
· Schedule regular conversations to discuss this as they may require more time to process the information
· Provide reassurance if your parents feel abandoned, hurt, or scared
· Reiterate your commitment to providing your best for your parents’ wellbeing
· Ease your parents into the transition, for example by trying out day-care before the long-term stay
If your parent is unable to comprehend or a decide for himself or herself, have a discussion with all the caregivers and come to a mutual solution. The wellbeing of your parent should always be the priority.
However, we urge you to have that conversation as your parents deserve the best. This is not a topic to be swept under the carpet. Take a deep breath and get started.
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