How to Talk With Your Parent About Moving to Assisted Living
Does this story sound familiar? Mom has lived in the same neighborhood for over 20 years. She loves her neighbors and how close she lives to her family members and friends.
However, as you continue to visit her weekly, you notice that she is having some difficulty taking care of tasks on her own. She is eating very little and hardly cooks for herself anymore. She is having trouble keeping track of her medications and doctors’ appointments. She even fell one evening.
These are just some of the realities for many older adults who live on their own.
However, even with all of this, sometimes the last thing seniors want to hear is: “Don’t you think it’s about time you moved to an assisted living community?” While it is understandable, and commendable, that many caregivers are looking out for their aging parents, many older adults do not feel the same way about moving out of their homes.
A home, after all, is more than just a place to live; it is a place filled with precious memories. And for many seniors, they have always lived in their family home. It can be difficult for older adults to move away from a place that means so much to them, even if they are having a challenging time managing on their own.
This is a dilemma that many caregivers face. 87% of adults age 65 and older want to stay in their current home and community as they continue to age, and 71% of adults who are age 50 to 64 years old want to age in place (AARP). Even still, many older adults might begin to experience a decline in their physical health; in these cases, it might be best for them to move to an assisted living residence.
But you might be thinking: How can I convince my parent to move when they are determined to live at home?
This is where conversation starters come in. In this blog, we will discuss a few tips on how to bring up the topic of assisted living. As it is important for your parent to feel loved and cared for at this stage in their life, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. To start, ask them questions.
Remember that your aging parent should not feel as though they are left out of the conversation. While you might have many valid concerns for them during this time, it is important not to bombard them with all of your thoughts. Instead, take the time to ask them questions, and then listen to what they have to say.
For example, if mom has recently suffered a fall and is trying to recuperate back at home (know that one in four Americans age 65 and older falls every year), ask her why she still wants to live at home. Also, mention the option of assisted living and see how she responds; make sure to really listen to her explain the reasons behind why she is apprehensive about moving into an assisted living community.
Like many other seniors, her response may include: dreading the idea of selling her home, losing her independence, or even not being able to afford assisted living.
Being a good listener is one of the best ways to show your parent that you care about their concerns and that you do not want to just “put them in a home.” Additionally, keep in mind that they still might have a difficult time talking about assisted living or accepting it as an option. Do not become frustrated if this is the case. Instead, give them time to think about this on their own.
2. Mention the benefits of moving to an assisted living residence.
While you should not continuously bombard your parent with your thoughts on assisted living, it is still important to let them know why moving to a community could be the best decision for them. Start by first pinpointing a few of your observations, and then discuss with them how an assisted living community can fulfill their needs.
For example, if you know that mom is trying to manage to live on her own after suffering a fall, explain to her how much more comfortable life can be at an assisted living community. She would have access to personal care services (such as activities of daily living like dressing, toileting, bathing, etc.), as well as housekeeping and maintenance services so she would not have to worry about tidying up her space on her own.
Also, if it is currently challenging for her to prepare and cook meals, mention that she would be served three meals a day in a community dining room. Furthermore, let her know that as a resident of an assisted living community she would have access to medication management services as well as transportation services which would make going to doctors’ appointments much easier.
Know that for many seniors, their quality of life notably improves after moving to a community (Where You Live Matters).
Most of all, explain that she will not be left alone. Although it has been noted that the younger generation experiences loneliness more than the older generation, know that in 2019, 61% of Americans reported feeling lonely. Let mom know that there will always be someone to care for her in an assisted living community and that her friends and family can still visit and call her. It is important for her to understand that she will get all of the support she needs.
3. Educate yourself on assisted living, and share your research with your parent.
Sometimes, older adults have an idea of what residential care is—and it is anything but positive. They might envision that they will be living in a place where they will lose their independence and not have the ability to do what they enjoy. This is why it is so important to share with your parent the realities of assisted living.
Sit down with mom one evening to show her different brochures and pamphlets of a few assisted living communities you are considering for her. Go through the various floor plan options of the apartments, discuss the kinds of meals that are available, and even look through an activities calendar together. Make sure that she is involved in the overall decision.
You also might want to consider bringing mom along on assisted living tours so that she gets to see what each community has to offer. This would be another great way to help her feel included.
4. Start sooner rather than later
If you believe your parent will need to move to an assisted living community in the foreseeable future, do not wait until a crisis strikes for you to begin the discussion. Take note of your parent’s physical health; if you see that your parent is experiencing difficulties with daily tasks, or has other health issues, bring this up to them and their doctor so that your parent can begin receiving the help they need.
Also, make sure to leave your thoughts about this blog in the comment section below. To learn specifically about our assisted living services at Royal Estates of El Paso, call us or schedule a tour.