Talking to a Loved One About Assisted Living
A how-to guide on approaching assisted living conversations with those you love and respect
There's no playbook on how to broach the often emotional subject of moving a loved one into an assisted living community. But those who have done it successfully seem to agree on a few things that helped their family member transition into their new life. It all begins with communication, early and often.
It's a process, not an event
The earlier conversations about future living arrangements start, the better. It will seem like a more natural transition if there have been ongoing discussions about what happens if the stairs become too much, or if declining health requires a little help getting dressed or doing other everyday things. A logical approach can work wonders, assuming your loved one isn't suffering from dementia. And if dementia is a factor, extra patience and advice from a doctor or other professional may be called for.
What does he/she want?
Always asking their opinion keeps mom or dad engaged in the process. The minute you start dictating the rules, you'll start losing them. Resentment breeds when well-meaning family members make too many decisions for a parent without their input.
Visit senior living communities with your loved one
Treat it like an outing, not a make-or-break decision day. Soliciting the opinion of the person who would actually live there is the most important part of the exercise. Asking questions of the tour guide and encouraging your loved one to do the same keeps the dialogue going. Again, communication is the difference.
The Chelsea at Greenburgh, Interior Rendering
Frank talk about money
Everyone's financial situation is different and not every senior living solution works for everybody. Selling the home that they've known most of their lives is an emotional, even frightening prospect. It is often the only option for affording assisted living. Any discussion of money requires the same empathy and patience as a discussion of health concerns. Instead of consulting a doctor, it might be a good idea to consult a financial expert.
Be prepared for push-back
Many adult children hear a parent say, "I will never leave this house" and try to shut down the entire conversation. This is not the time to get angry or begin an argument. It is the time to take a deep breath, put yourself in mom or dad's shoes and regroup. Don't give up, but try again at a later time. Return to your concerns about their health and safety, perhaps suggest a respite or trial stay (most assisted living communities offer this).
With empathy, compassion and patience, we can help many of our older loved ones navigate their way to a happy new life among new friends.
The Chelsea at Greenburgh
715 Dobbs Ferry Road