Moving into assisted living is a big step in a senior’s life. It’s something that many elderly adults are reluctant to do. Some view senior care as a loss of freedom. It feels like a reminder of advanced age and a place where they can no longer do the things they love or live as they choose.
It’s a scary thought for some, which can make them reluctant to even discuss the topic let alone go through with the move. This can even occur despite facing challenges and safety risks as they get older and can no longer keep up in their current living environment.
Families sometimes avoid talking about assisted living because they fear upsetting their senior matriarch or patriarch. Unfortunately, this can lead to increased risks to the health and well-being of an older adult who needs more support. It can also hurt relationships with your loved one.
The best thing to do is to prepare for this discussion and then have it before your parent faces a lower quality of life living on their own.
The National Center for Assisted Living reported that more than 800,000 people reside in 28,900 assisted living communities across the country. It is an essential part of long-term care planning for many.
Today’s seniors are advised to look for assisted living accommodations earlier in life. That’s because it’s much easier to make the move and adapt when you are younger. It also reduces the risk of fall injuries or the potential impact of a medical emergency.
These facilities have resources close by to assist as soon as a problem occurs. If your loved one lives at home, response times may be longer, and resources may not be available to provide care until help arrives.
Finding an assisted living community after an incident can be stressful. You’ll have much less time to research locations and determine how to fund your loved one’s stay.
What can you do to start a discussion about assisted living with your mom or dad?
Research Assisted Living Options in Your Loved One’s Area
Understanding the assisted living industry will help you prepare for this conversation. Research facilities in the area where your loved one will likely want to live. This may be easier if they are close by because you can schedule tours of locations to see what they are like for yourself.
Even if your parent’s preferred location isn’t close to you, you can still gather a lot of information online or by contacting facilities.
Learn more about services, amenities, and living conditions in the places you are considering for your parent. You may find some benefits that your loved one would appreciate. For example, someone who is experiencing loneliness or has lost many of their peers may appreciate facilities with an active community and busy social calendar.
Others may have on-site services and businesses that would make your parent’s life easier, like podiatrists, barber and salon services, or restaurants.
You can also check reviews and other information from people who live in the facility or their families to get a better perspective on what daily life is like there.
Make a List of Concerns for Your Mom or Dad
If you are thinking about discussing assisted living, then you are probably worried about your parent’s health, safety, and mobility. Make a list of concerns that includes all of these. It can also help to talk to the rest of the family to ask them for their input.
Having a complete list can give your parent more to consider if they still refuse to talk about assisted living. This can be anything from fall risk and medication management to what will happen in a medical emergency if they are alone.
Include any age-related changes that you have noticed that would impact their ability to thrive where they are now. Things like an inability to perform activities of daily living are serious concerns that shouldn’t be ignored. Activities of daily living include tasks like dressing, grooming, walking, bathing, and eating.
Remain Positive During Discussions About Assisted Living
Maintain a positive attitude and outlook when talking about assisted living. You should feel that this is truly the best option for your loved one and convey that through what you say and how you say it. Your loved one will pick up on your tone and body language.
Focusing on the benefits of assisted living will help your loved one understand why the move will put them in a better living situation. While you shouldn’t ignore questions about any drawbacks, you should make sure they understand what they stand to gain by making the transition.
Seniors who move into assisted living are less likely to experience loneliness and depression. They also have access to additional support in case their health declines or frailty increases. It also helps with financial planning and lowers the risk of money mismanagement or fraud.
Ask Your Parent About Their Concerns, Questions, or Fears
A discussion should include a back-and-forth interaction. While you may do a lot of talking when you try to share information about assisted living, do not forget to listen to your parent. Ask them about their concerns or fears. Find out if they have questions.
Address the things they say or ask to help calm worries and guide them in the right direction. It’s ok if you don’t have the answers right away. You should be honest and tell your loved one that you will find the answer for them. Make sure you follow through, whether that involves internet research or calling an assisted living community to ask.
Addressing their concerns directly may help them decide to move into assisted living sooner.
Do No Argue, Demand, or Use Otherwise Negative or Aggressive Tones
Some older adults may feel defensive when assisted living is brought up. They may think you are calling them incapable or incompetent. They may also feel like you are trying to take away their independence.
Avoid arguments and keep your tone positive and upbeat. Do not sound aggressive, negative, or make demands. This isn’t the way to make progress. In an ideal situation, everyone should be on board with the move. It’s much harder to reach an agreement if you are both poised for a fight.
If you feel the conversation getting tense, it’s ok to take a break or try again later. A different approach may get better results. Take this opportunity to consider your loved one’s reaction and how you could broach the subject in a way that might make them less defensive and more likely to listen.
Reassure Your Parent That They Will Be Involved in Decision-Making
One of the biggest concerns seniors have about moving into assisted living is the loss of independence and autonomy. Reassure your loved one that they will be involved in any decision-making. Make sure they feel involved and heard throughout the process.
Even after they agree to move into assisted living, they may still have concerns. Continue to include them in decisions. Show them potential senior homes, let them choose items to bring, and make sure they have input on decorating and arranging their new accommodations.
Look for Organic Opportunities to Strike Up a Conversation
Try to use organic opportunities to strike up a conversation about assisted living. If it feels forced, it will only make the discussion awkward or even intrusive.
For example, if your loved one displays difficulties with activities of daily living or has trouble managing medications, this may present a natural opportunity to talk about assisted living. If your loved one suffers a fall, even if it didn’t require hospitalization or cause serious injury, it can open the door for a conversation.
You can point to these real examples of why your loved one could benefit from the care, services, and support of assisted living.
Prepare for an Ongoing Discussion About Assisted Living
The decision to move into an assisted living community isn’t one that’s made overnight. You should expect this to be a process that involves multiple conversations. Convincing a senior to give up the life they know to start one that’s unfamiliar in a new place takes time. It’s a process but keep at it and be prepared with the information your loved one needs to make an informed decision.
Vista Living Senior Care is available to provide information on our senior care services and amenities. Contact us now to learn more about discussing assisted living with your mom or dad.