Whether your aging parent has lost a spouse, needs to be closer to family, or is experiencing major changes in their health, deciding to move to assisted living isn’t an easy decision. Many adult children are faced with the reality that their parents are no longer safe in their current living environment. There are a number of different reasons why an older adult may not be safe at home, including frequent falls, starting fires in the kitchen, neglecting to pay their bills, or forgetting to take their medication. Or you may notice your loved one becoming socially isolated or paranoid, or is ignoring basic daily tasks such as taking a bath and preparing meals. While some older adults meet this crossroads with acceptance and understanding, many may react with resistance and even anger.
Maybe you’ve already started the conversation with your aging parents about moving to a senior living community, or perhaps you’re prolonging the conversation out of fear of their reaction. Whatever your situation might be, here are a few guidelines and suggestions that you may find helpful:
Understand their hesitations. Aging can be a difficult process for aging parents and their adult children. It’s important to navigate the conversation of moving with empathy and compassion. In addition to declining physical health, many older adults also experience mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Learning how to talk to your aging parents about their needs while also acknowledging their feelings is crucial to good communication.
Create a timeline. While you need to be patient, creating a realistic timeline is integral to making this work. Discuss with siblings, if relevant, or any other family members who will participate in helping see this through.
Discuss. Be transparent about the need for change. Explain why this needs to happen quickly and how it will alleviate stress and anxiety for you and the family. Discuss the benefits of living in a community. Focus on how the addition of new friends, socialization, and programming will positively impact their lives. You could suggest it as a temporary placement for respite or a short-term stay. This approach may lessen the anger and resistance.
Visit communities. If you haven’t begun, start looking at communities. Do the initial research yourself and narrow it to two choices. Relay details about your loved one to the teams at the final communities, including needs, desires, preferences, objections, hobbies, and food preferences. Arrange a visit for a personalized experience. Afterward, sit down and go through the pros and cons and the idea of moving overall.
Utilize your village. Involve close friends and family in the reasons for the move. Be sure they know your loved one’s objections and how they can help talk about the benefits of moving to an assisted living comunity. Discuss with them the hurdles you’re facing.
Be patient. If you’ve done all this and are still wondering how to convince a parent to go to assisted living, remember that setbacks will occur. To stick to your timeline, validate your parents’ concerns and help them overcome objections. Redirect with positive reinforcement about the benefits of a move and keep them involved in the decision.
Community backup. The team at the community you’ve chosen is there to help with the transition. Count on them to help things run more smoothly. Even after the move, there will be setbacks. Prepare yourself and your extended support group that the transition may take 3-6 months in order to see positive changes and your loved one thriving.
If you feel that you’ve completely run out of options, you may need to look into legal options. According to AgingCare, the only way you can legally force your loved ones to move is to obtain guardianship. Guardianship is a complex and serious process that can only be established over a person who is incapable of making sound decisions and caring for themselves. Obtaining guardianship is a lengthy process that involves going to court and seeking legal counsel. However, it can prove helpful for individuals who firmly believe their loved one is in danger.
Many older adults choose to establish a power of attorney (POA) as a part of their care plan. A medical POA names a particular person who is authorized to make healthcare-based decisions on an individual’s behalf, while a financial POA gives a named individual the authority to make financial decisions. However, some people may mistakenly believe that a POA gives them the authority to force their loved one into a nursing home or assisted living community. This is simply not the case.
At Maplewood Senior Living, we understand that aging is a difficult process for many older adults and their children. Our communities offer robust amenities that make the transition into community living a desirable one. The first step in moving a resistant parent is doing your research. Come see what we have to offer today.
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