You may be feeling overwhelmed with the thought of bringing up the topic of senior living within your family though you know it's time. Oftentimes it's an emotionally charged topic. As with all 'unknowns,' apprehension can surface, and the thought of giving up 'home' may feel like 'giving up.' Some elders fear their independence is threatened. Many who are unfamiliar with modern senior living mistakenly equate Independent Living and Assisted Living with a nursing home, and in their day, a nursing home was a miserable fate. Family members may resist accepting the fact that living in the traditional residence is no longer the safe nor healthy option. There are so many possible 'what ifs' it can be very easy to just continue to put off the discussion. So let's look at a few questions to explore.
- Are there health or safety concerns?
- Does family live nearby for support?
- Are family and/or friends relied upon regularly for routine tasks?
- Is there a strong social support network or is isolation a problem?
- Is proper nutrition and safe exercise a regular part of life?
- Is medication a concern?
- Are memory issues a cause for worry?
- Is mobility compromised?
- Is the home able to be maintained in good shape both physically and financially?
- Is driving a concern?
- Is there regular mental and emotional stimulation?
- Is transportation an issue?
This is by no means a comprehensive list of questions, but the answers to these questions may be enough to help you begin the conversation. We are providing links here to other articles, as well, to help you determine the best course of action.
An article on AgingCare.com suggests the following to encourage the move:
1. First, plant the seed. Don't approach your parent as though you've already made the decision for him or her. Just mention that there are options that could make life easier and more fun.
2. Next, offer a tour of some local assisted living centers, if he or she is willing, but don't push it. Drop the subject if necessary, and wait for another day.
3. Watch for a "teachable moment." Did Mom fall, but escape getting badly hurt? Use that as a springboard. You may want to wait a bit, or immediately say something like, "Wow, that was close. Once you're feeling better, maybe we could go look at the new assisted living center over by the church. We'd both feel better if you had people around." Go with your gut on the timing, but use the "moment."
4. Again, don't push unless you consider this an emergency. It's hard to wait, but you may need to. Wait for, say, a very lonely day when Mom is complaining about how she never sees her friends anymore. Then, gently, try again.
5. Check with your friends and friends of your parents. See if any live happily in an assisted living center nearby, or if their parents do. Just like your first day of school when you looked for a friend – any friend – who may be in your class, your parent would feel much better if there were a friend already in the center.
6. Even if they won't know anyone, you can still take your parent to watch a group having fun playing cards or wii bowling. Show off the social aspects of a good center. Keep it light and don't force the issue. Tour more than one center, if possible, and ask your parent for input. Big center or small? New and modern or older and cozy?
7. Show interest in how much privacy a resident has. Ask about bringing furniture from home and how much room there is. Take measuring tapes and visualize, if you can see some rooms, how your parent's room(s) would look. Show excitement, as you would do if you were helping your parent move to a new apartment, because that's what you are doing.
8. Stress the safety aspects.
9. Stress the fact that there's no yard cleanup, but flowers can be tended to. There's no need to call a plumber if the sink breaks, but there are plenty of things to do if people want. There's plenty of freedom to be alone, but company when they desire it.