How to Start the Conversation about Assisted Living
There are many warning signs to keep an eye out for as your parent or loved one is aging. Maybe you’ve noticed how your mom’s mobility is beginning to become an issue. Perhaps dad has been forgetting to take his medication. Is it all too familiar to open your loved one’s refrigerator door and find little to no food?
When the safety or care needs of a loved one begin to raise questions about assisted living as a senior care option, it's important to have an open and honest conversation as a family. Here are some suggestions:
Assess the Situation
The most important step in starting this conversation is to objectively assess your loved one’s situation. Why are you considering assisted living? If you raise the topic, does your parent resist? If so, what’s the reason for the reluctance? It’s possible that your loved one is resisting because they are thinking of you or others in their life. It’s possible that they believe the family is going to miss gathering at the house or they worry that a neighbor will be left alone if they move. Once you understand why your loved one keeps saying “no” to a move, you can address that issue directly.
Begin Early and Involve Everyone
It's always a good idea to introduce the subject of senior care early, and to involve the whole family in the conversation if multiple siblings are part of the decision-making process. This gives everyone the chance to be heard and allows time to fully consider the challenges ahead so you can work through the process gradually.
Speak From Your Heart
Frame the conversation around your concerns. Telling a loved one, "I'm worried about your/myself," is a less critical way to be true to your emotions. Explain how an assisted living community can provide the type of care that you cannot. And make it clear that nobody considers him or her a burden; you will remain as supportive as you always have been. If the community you're considering is nearby, emphasize that you will visit often.
Be sure to convey that you are putting your loved one’s interests first. Once you’ve established this, it’s okay to be honest and open up about your own priorities and needs. Discuss the limits on your time, finances, and energy. Help your parent understand why this move will be beneficial to both of you in the long run.
Take a Collaborative Approach
Involve your loved one and important family members in key decisions, as this is a decision that affects everyone. Work together to review options, discuss finances, and take tours of communities. You may also want to have an objective medical evaluation of your loved one's needs. Ask your loved one's primary physician or let one of our trained nurses visit and provide you with a free home visit.
Remember that this discussion can be challenging and you may not reach a consensus after the first discussion. You may want to re-visit the topic a few more times. Taking the time to share your feelings and understand your parent's needs is a crucial part of the process.
Engage a Health Care Provider
Even after several conversations, your loved one may still express strong reservations about the move. At this point, you might want to consider talking with a health care provider to help you make your case.
A doctor can present a strong, objective argument from a medical perspective — in some cases, your loved one will be required to move because it’s medically prudent. A familiar face, like your parent’s primary physician, may be more convincing by presenting an objective evaluation of your loved one’s needs.
We Can Help
We recognize how difficult it is to transition your parent or loved one from the home that no longer supports their health and wellness to an assisted living community. At Enlivant, we pride ourselves in being a solution provider to you and your loved one and are focused on providing an environment that enriches your loved one’s life.
If you have any questions, please call us at 888-252-5001. To bring a better understanding of the costs of senior care to the conversation, read this comparison and consult our affordability calculator.