At some point in time it may become clear that mom and/or dad can no longer care for themselves at home. Often, this becomes clear when the parent is living alone and the son or daughter notices that the parent’s health is declining and little things around the house are not being done. Then, concern may build around medication management, hygiene, and eating habits. The parent may be good at masking how difficult daily activities have become if you visit infrequently, but the more time that is spent with the individual, the more obvious it becomes that a change in lifestyle is necessary.
It isn’t easy to have a conversation about moving into an assisted living community, but there are some steps one can take to help reduce the anxiety around making this important move. Don’t wait until there is a health crisis or when bringing multiple caregivers into the home becomes too difficult. It is best to start easing into the conversation early on.
Step 1 – Start the process early as it will take time. It could take more than a year before the parent is ready and agrees that it is time to move. Have the discussion while the person is healthy enough to live without full-time care and is able to enjoy activities.
Step 2 – Enlist the help of family members, trusted clergy members, and the person’s physician. Practice what you want to say and make sure everyone is on the same page. Be ready to address objections and work through your responses in advance. Include the person in the decision; don’t make it for him/her.
Step 3 – Visit a few assisted living centers. Bring mom or dad to see the one that fits his/her lifestyle, interests and personal preferences best. Meet the staff together and join the residents for a meal. Plan this in advance with the assisted living community so that everything goes smoothly.
Step 4 – Let it rest for a while. Keep the conversation open by checking in and asking how things are going. Reassure the person that you want what is best for them. Address concerns about moving, and let mom or dad know you will come to visit.
With time, patience, and encouragement, the person may come to the conclusion that a move to an assisted living community would be in his/her best interest.
This article is contributed by The Selfhelp Home, a not for profit Jewish retirement community with a tradition of caring for more than 65 years. Independent Living, Assisted Living, Short-term Rehab and Long Term Skilled Care. For more information visit www.selfhelphome.org