How To Discuss Assisted Living With Your Loved One
Helping a loved one to accept that they need more care and are no longer safe living at home is a challenge faced by many families. Many seniors are reluctant to leave their family home that is full of memories, move away from friends and neighbors, and give up their perceived “independence”. While there is no magic solution for getting someone to agree on making a move to assisted living, The Gables Assisted Living and Memory Care is able to offer suggestions that may help make the conversation go as well as possible.
- Start The Conversation Early, Before An Emergency – Ask your loved one about how they want to manage their care in the future. Bring the subject up in every day conversation so that it is perceived as less confrontational and provides your loved one with a sense of being the decision maker. Choose a quiet time when everyone is in a good mood such as during a meal, on the way home from church, or while taking a walk. The holidays, when everyone is together, are ideal.
- Ask Open Ended Questions – Ask open ended questions to assess how your loved one is handling daily activities? For example, “How are you doing keeping up with the house?” “Are there activities that you can no longer do that you wish you could still do?” “Do you have a plan to handle an emergency, such as a power outage, fall, or accident?” “What are your daily worries or concerns as you go through your day?”
- Use Affirming Terms – Assisted living homes have come a long ways and are truly a residence. Using words like “home”, or “residence” rather than “facility” or “institution” may help provide a more positive and accurate depiction for your parent.
- Use Third Parties & Friends – Enlist other resources to help reinforce your message. A doctor, church official, lawyer, or other trusted professional or friend can often times assist. The message may be better received coming from someone outside of the family.
- Emphasize The Services – Ask if they have considered moving to assisted living as a means to simplify their life. With all of the services and amenities that assisted living has to offer, it is often helpful to discuss the attributes such as not having to perform maintenance on the house, yard work, getting balanced, nutritious meals, socialization, activities, and managing fewer bills for example. Express your wish to your parent that they be able to enjoy their life to the fullest.
- Peace of Mind & Enjoyment – Along with your wish for your loved one to enjoy life, letting them know how concerned you are about their safety, health and socialization should be brought in to the conversation. If someone is not ready to move for his/her own sake, often knowing that this decision will bring you peace of mind may be the piece that helps them come to a decision. Remind them that you are happy to be a caregiver, but shifting this responsibility to the assisted living home will allow you to enjoy your relationship as a family member or friend again.
- Finances – Assisted living is a significant expense. Many seniors believe that staying at home with caregivers is the more affordable option. Depending on the amount of services required to keep your loved one at home, this perception is often not accurate. Considering the cost of caregivers, home maintenance, property taxes, utilities, food, etc. – the math is often in favor of assisted living given the services provided are 24 hours a day. Reassure your loved one that you are not relying on an inheritance for you financial future. Express to them how important it is to you that they live safely and enjoyably.
- Patience – Making the decision to move to assisted living can take time. It is perfectly natural for someone to feel scared, threatened, or embarrassed. For this reason, it is important that everyone involved be patient and compassionate. Allowing your loved one to make his/her own decision about assisted living alleviates guilt a child may feel about “forcing” them to move. It is the ideal situation for a person to willingly choose their next step in life. However, if the conversation gets uncomfortable or confrontational, take a step back. Wait if you can – then try to approach the situation again. Patience and timing are key. Once your loved one has reached acceptance, tour multiple homes to ensure you find the right fit that will meet not just their medical needs, but their personal preferences as well. Find a place that your loved one will be happy to call home. Touring together and offering choices is a further step to ensure your loved one is excited and positive about the decision.