Talking to Your Loved One About Assisted Living
It’s no surprise that having the talk with your loved ones about moving into assisted living can be daunting. Confronting your parents is difficult and uprooting them to a completely different lifestyle is no less stressful. That is why we are here to help with the process.
The first thing you should do is plan ahead of your talk to ensure you are prepared to ask and answer any and all questions. No matter the condition your loved one is in, they’ll probably have mixed feelings about being moved away from their home. Hopefully, they understand why you may feel they need a change but it’s likely they will need an explanation as to why it is necessary. If you’ve already done some research into facilities, present multiple options for them. Make sure they are as involved in the process as they can be. This helps the transition go as smoothly as possible. If you have not researched potential options, ask them questions about what they would prefer. Allowing them to to be a part of the decisions ensures everyone is on the same page.
Before you sit down to talk, consider their feelings and point of view. They have lived longer and experienced more than most. These extensive experiences help explain the struggle to comprehend the need to move to a new home. In order to truly understand where we are coming from, we must realize they little control over the many changes in their life and this change may feel dramatic. Acknowledging and listening to their feelings will build trust and foster a working relationship. It’s important to have this talk at a stage where it does not come down to an emergency decision, when there is time to consider every option. Include the entire family and make sure everyone is considered during the process. Seniors need a network of friends, family, and community members that can work together to make the best decision for everyone.
Keep your language in a positive tone. Avoid systematic words such as “facility” or “in case you hurt yourself.” These words carry a negative undertone and may force your loved one into a defensive stance. Try more uplifting phrases such as “round-the-clock care” and “condo-style living.” The conversation should focus on the benefits, such as social interaction, classes, hobbies, help with housework, etc. It’s important that you’re able to pivot into beneficial reasons for their move despite any reservations or defensiveness. Make sure they understand the difference between assisted living and the typical nursing home. They shouldn’t view assisted living as a “place to die.” Rather, assisted living helps them adjust to aging by making certain facets of their life easier. By knowing the difference, they’ll have a much easier time easing into the possibility of moving.
If your loved one has a debilitating illness or injury, it’s essential to have the discussion as early as possible. Be prepared to discuss the details and know as much information as possible. The earlier you’re able to talk with them, the better it should be for them to understand your position on the matter. Keep them in the loop as you learn more information and never assume their lack of understanding. Do not avoid certain topics because you think it is above their comprehension level. If their current illness is something that can be recovered, establish goals to reach so that they may possibly plan to move back home. This is especially helpful for those that currently live with someone, such as their kids or significant other.
Truthfully, there is no textbook approach to handling this situation. Every senior has their own needs and priorities with different support groups to help them. Regardless, it’s important to face this tough conversation for the sake of your loved one’s happiness and health. Learn as much as you can about your options and how they can meet your loved one’s needs throughout the entire process. Remember to away remain patient, understanding, and tuned in. They have been here for us so we must be there for them.
About the Author: John Winfrey Jr. received his Bachelor’s in 2015 from the University of North Texas after spending much of his 20’s traveling across the country. Majoring in Marketing and minoring in Journalism gave him the experience needed to write and research important topics like senior health. Senior health especially hits home as his veteran father was a senior who eventually became deaf and blind. John had to become as familiar as he could, quickly, to provide support for his father.