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IKF Blog
Posted: Wednesday, December 23, 2020

How to have a conversation with parents about memory care

Has one of your parents been diagnosed with dementia? Do they live alone or are they caring for each other? If you’re noticing troubling signs, it may be time to have a memory care conversation with them.

These talks are often difficult and avoided until necessity requires them to happen. But evading the topic doesn’t make the problem go away. In fact, a serious health condition or injury can worsen and result in a crisis for the family.

Signs that memory care may be needed

Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia are progressive illnesses. Those diagnosed will continue to need more care as their symptoms escalate. Paying close attention to the changes that occur can give you a heads up when it may be time to talk about memory care.

The following may signal that additional care is needed:

1. Are your parents safe living alone? Have there been any instances of stoves left on, candles left burning or not being able to keep up with housekeeping tasks?

2. Is the behavior of the parent with dementia becoming more aggressive or angry? Is the caregiver afraid that something might happen?

3. Is wandering becoming a problem? If your parent gets lost, knowing the way home may not be possible.

4. Is the interruption of sleep an issue? If one parent is up at night, the caregiver most likely is as well.

5. Is the physical health of one or both parents declining?

6. If one of your parents is the caregiver, how are they holding up under the stress?

7. Are your parents becoming socially isolated?

How to have a memory care conversation with your parents

If you’re seeing any of the above behaviors, taking the following steps can help prepare and guide the conversations you’ll need to have with your loved ones.

1. Prepare

Don’t have an emotional conversation before you’re ready or at a time when they are already upset. If no one is in immediate danger, take the time to plan out what you want to say, questions to ask and how to respond if their reactions are negative.

2. Avoid intimidation

Having everyone there that will be involved is usually a good idea but consider what works best in your family. Don’t make your parents feel as if they’re being ganged up on. It may be better to have the initial conversation one-on-one.

3. Do your research

Most of us aren’t experts or experienced in this. Learn as much as you can about how to have these conversations, information on the benefits of memory care and suggestions of what the next steps may be.

4. Don’t make the decision alone

Even if they will need to move, present the conversation so that everyone can be heard. Ask for their input and how they feel. Don’t approach this as though they have no say in where they go. And don’t show up and announce a decision already made.  

5. Ask if they’d visit a community

Your parents may be thinking of nursing homes from a long time ago and be assuming that’s what their new home will be like too. Ask if they’d be willing to go see a few places just to get a better idea of what’s available.

6. Prepare for more than one conversation

It will likely need to be revisited more than once before a decision is finally made. And as long as no one is in danger, that’s OK. This is a big change for your family. Let them get used to the idea.

7. If it goes badly, take a break

Be prepared for any response. Your parents may get emotional, accuse you of not caring or become angry that you’re trying to run their lives. If things become too negative, end the conversation and attempt to leave on a positive note. You can try again later.

8. Make sure they know the reason for the conversation

It may help if you remind them the reason you want to talk is not because you don’t think they should live alone, but that you love and care for them and only want the best. You’d like to talk with them to help discover what that might be.

How memory support communities can help

Turning to a memory support community for guidance can be a big help. If there is one that you’re interested in, schedule a visit without your parents first to check it out. Take the opportunity to openly discuss your concerns and the situation with your parents as you see it.

Ask for any suggestions they may have. And if you think this community could be the right one, schedule a time to bring your parents in for a tour. Think of what might be most important for them to see or what activity or service might help convince them that this could be a good solution. Make sure those ideas are discussed when they visit.

Ingleside at King Farm Memory Support Assisted Living

We understand the disruption Alzheimer’s brings to families and how difficult it can be to have some of these tough conversations about memory care. We can support you and your family with our educational resources and the experience of our highly and specially trained staff.

Today’s memory care communities are focused on the quality of life and helping their residents continue to engage as much as possible.

Our community and whole-person approach to wellness encourages our residents to feel well-cared for and empowered.

A few of the services and amenities we offer include: 

  • Intimate and secure residential neighborhoods

  • Spacious apartments with an abundance of sun and natural light

  • Individual therapy and wellness programs

  • Licensed nursing staff 24/7 educated in best practices in dementia care

  • All-day dining with chef inspired meals and stocked kitchens

  • Social integration with others in the greater community

  • Family support and education

Call (240) 414-8557 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.


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