Talking To Your Parents About The Need For Assisted Living
By CarePatrol of Greater Birmingham
Ask anyone of retirement age about their preference for home or community-based living as they age, and most will reply that they wish to stay in their homes forever. But, if you’re reading this article, you may be wondering if doing so is in their best interests for safety and quality of life. How should you approach them about the potential danger of remaining home? Especially if they have experienced a critical health event or ongoing chronic diagnosis. What do you say to convey that a move to a community of professional caregivers could benefit them not only physically, but mentally?
How Safe is “Aging in Place”?
One of the issues surrounding the choice to enter Assisted Living is the misconception many people have about community living. Often, those making the decision haven’t toured or experienced modern Assisted Living and instead confuse it with the outdated image of the “rest home” of old. Some may even view a move as a loss of independence and one step closer to death. This image couldn’t be farther from the truth. While many seniors can remain safely at home with a combination of sitters, daycare and a personal alert system, many others who are frail may fall without the ability to alarm someone to their plight. Few opportunities to socialize further isolates these individuals. Some even stop cooking and eating due to the “chore” of preparing meals for one. Worse, some experience memory loss and may leave the stove on causing a fire. We so often see the elder stubbornly clinging to home from familiarity, with no other demonstrable benefit.
Seniors Thrive in Assisted Living
Life in a reputable assisted living center, no matter the setting, allows seniors to thrive. Gone is the need to maintain a home physically and financially. Assisted Living communities provide three meals daily and cover the costs of maintenance, including utilities paid. And, staff are available 24/7 to provide medical help or other assistance. Most importantly, seniors gain the opportunity to make new friends and take part in a bevy of arranged activities that allow for personal growth and just plain fun. Perhaps you are already convinced that Mom and/or Dad need to make the move to an assisted living community. Constant oversight may have taken its toll on your personal and family life and you know that your Herculean efforts to keep your parents in their home is precarious at best. But, how do you convince your parents of the need to move?
Convince Your Parent to Consider Assisted Living
- First, plant a seed. Mention benefits of assisted living, discussed above, and suggest that options exist locally that could make life easier and more enjoyable for them.
- Next, research nearby Assisted Living communities by touring them. Offer to take your parents to lunch at those you find appealing. If they resist, drop the subject and live to fight another day.
- A “teachable” moment will occur, whether it’s Mom falling or Dad getting lost or something more serious. Use this unfortunate event to explain the benefits of community life again. Offer again to tour them in the assisted living centers of your liking.
- Unless the need for placement is an emergency, don’t push the idea. Wait for another teachable moment, such as when Mom complains that her friends and family no longer visit. Introduce the idea of community living once again, but let them know it is their decision and that they are in control.
- Ask around to see if friends have parents already thriving in an assisted living, or if one of your parent’s friends is already living comfortably in a local community. Elders feel better about the move when they know they will have a friend waiting in a community.
- Encourage your parents to go with you to a meal or take part in an activity at a community to illustrate the social aspects of life in a community. Do so at a number of communities and interact with them to discuss their preferences based on these visits.
- When touring, point out how much privacy and independence that residents enjoy.
- Measure a sample room and discuss furniture layout with your parents so that they can visualize themselves there surrounded by their things. Remember, this is simply a new apartment, in a different setting.
- Share with your parents the peace of mind you will enjoy knowing that they are safe and well cared for in a community.
- Highlight the lack of daily chores and hassles of homeownership that will allow them to focus on things they would rather do.
- Knowing your parents as you do, stress the aspects of assisted living that you believe will most attract them.
- Arrange a family meeting to tell Mom or Dad how much better everyone would feel if the move were made. Don’t make it feel like an intervention so that they continue to believe that they have a voice. Have everyone discuss their concerns about Mom and Dad’s current situation.
- Enlist a third party like a pastor or family doctor to underscore the need for a move. Third parties often have more success in listing the same items that you as the adult child have been deliberating.
- The last step is to wait. Let your parents ruminate, but be prepared in the event of an unanticipated crisis, like a fall.
Making the Move
Be empathetic and sensitive to your parents feelings about leaving their home filled with memories and possessions. As you sort through items, be kind when deciding what to keep. When dealing with a loved one who has memory loss, be aware that rational discussions may not change the elder’s mind. A Power of Attorney or Guardianship may be necessary. White lies may be necessary with this population in order to get them to move.