Many of us remember our parents when they were young, vibrant, and independent. That's why it can be difficult to watch them age, especially when they begin having trouble carrying out basic activities of daily life (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, preparing meals, and brushing their hair and teeth. They may also start to forget to take medications or have near misses with the car.
When older loved ones clearly can't live on their own anymore, it may be time to consider a move to Assisted Living. These specialized senior communities provide all the support older adults need to continue thriving and enjoying an optimal quality of life.
However, even when families decide that a move to Assisted Living is the best course of action, they often run into an unexpected roadblock: their older loved one's resistance.
Trust me, this occurrence isn't uncommon. Their reaction is actually quite natural. After all, your loved one has been handling ADLs and other tasks on their own for decades. Nobody likes to admit they can't handle these basic tasks anymore. Also, they might consider a move to Assisted Living tantamount to giving up their independence.
Another common point of resistance is leaving up the family home that they've lived in for years and created a lifetime of happy memories in. Plus, they'll need to start disposing of things they've accumulated over the years. Going through their possessions is a monumental task for everyone involved and one that also comes with a good dose of emotional strain.
I know that the decision is difficult for families, even when they know it's the right move. However, pushing back against your resistant older loved one about what's “right" for them will likely dissolve into an argument that might take you off speaking terms for a few days. In the meantime, the older adult may stubbornly try to prove themselves independent but still miss medications or get behind the wheel when it's no longer safe for them to do so.
So, how can you best approach the prospect of Assisted Living with your loved one in a progressive, supportive, and informed manner that's rooted in preparation, organization, and empathy? Here are seven ways I find work best when discussing this delicate subject:
1. Be empathetic
Losing one's independence through aging is hard for most younger people to understand. I recommend putting yourself in their position and imagining how you'd feel if you faced health issues that took away your ability to carry out basic tasks. Have compassion for your loved one as they realize that they need help with ADLs, and reassure them that no matter what, you'll be in their corner.
2. Research Assisted Living
Your loved one may have many questions about Assisted Living Communities. Read authoritative articles about Assisted Living so you can offer as many answers as possible. They will appreciate the time you took to research the subject and value your knowledge.
3. Discuss your concerns
There may be cases where your loved one might not be aware that they need help. Be open and supportive when discussing your concerns about their health and safety, gently using examples such as a change in weight or hygiene or if their usually neat home is unkempt.
4. Keep the focus on your loved one
The conversation should always be centered around your loved one's health and safety needs, not what's more convenient or more manageable for you. Find out what's most important to them to maintain an optimal quality of life, including healthcare and social needs. You can then tell them how Assisted Living can fulfill their needs and help them thrive.
5. Be realistic about costs
Talking about finances can often be tricky for families. However, their budget does need to play into where your loved one will live. Senior Living Communities can be expensive, and the costs go up if the older adult needs a higher level of care. Many financing options are available to fund Assisted Living while preserving as much of the person's savings as possible. Be sure to discuss these options with your Senior Living Advisor.
6. Let them decide
Many children feel the need to take the lead and make plans and decisions before consulting with their parents. I know you mean well, but it might be more productive if you allow the older adult to retain a level of independence by enabling them to make the final decision. Involving them in the decision will also keep them engaged about masking other choices about their next chapter in life.
7. Don't rush things
I know you want to get the process moving so your loved one receives the support they need sooner. However, chances are they won't decide to move to Assisted Living after the first few conversations. Avoid the temptation to get impatient or frustrated. This is a life-changing decision they have to make, and they may need time to process everything. Also, keep in mind that your loved one may be confused, forgetful, or indecisive due to the physical and mental changes that occur naturally as one ages. Keep everything at their own pace to preserve their feeling of being in control.
Above all, keep in mind that change is a process. The decision to move might take longer than you hoped but deep down inside, your loved one will sincerely appreciate your concern. With patience and care, they will slowly come around to the idea of Assisted Living - and might even start looking forward to it!
Help with finding Senior Living Communities in the Greater Cincinnati Area
Navigating the world of Assisted Living, Independent Living, Memory Care, or Skilled Nursing can be a challenge for many families, especially if they're searching on their own.
Assisted Living Locators of Greater Cincinnati specializes in connecting families with the most appropriate Senior Living Communities in our area. We take the time to get to know your loved one's needs, answer all of your questions, present a list of the best-matched communities, and accompany you on your community tours. Our goal is to ensure all your questions are answered, your concerns are addressed, and your loved ones will be safe and happy in a Senior Living Community where they can thrive.