No matter the reasons for beginning the process of looking for an assisted living solution for your parents–health concerns, a general decline in memory, a loss of motor skills, or any one of a hundred other things–they may be resistant to the change.
Which makes sense, of course. They’ve lived independently for the majority of their lives, whether alone or with a spouse. It’s not an easy thing to feel like you can no longer do what you once took for granted.
Losing your independence is very, very hard.
But at some point, the reality of the situation will win out. And for many families, assisted living is a great option. Or, it may seem that way to everyone except the person it affects the most.
Here are a few things to think about when helping a parent or elderly loved one make the transition to assisted living.
Moving from the family home into assisted or nursing care isn’t something most of us want to think about, let alone actually do. So, recognize these feelings in your loved ones.
Independence, after all, is a basic need. And empathy goes a long way.
What can your loved ones still do? What do they need help with? What resources are available to them? Is it a case of family members being able to pick up the slack here or there, or is the situation such that professional care needs to play a part in the solution? You’ll need to know all of this information in order to make a decision about–and then present your argument for–what steps need to happen next.
Before presenting your older parent with the idea of helping them transition to their next living environment, focus on the end results. The solutions. Don’t come at them with just the problems or vague ideas about what might come next. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, you probably aren’t in a position where their feelings won’t at least come into play, so do your homework, search the web, ask around, and, in general, do a lot of legwork upfront before the idea is presented.
You don’t have to have all the answers. But having an understanding of what’s involved will help you encourage and support future decisions.
No one wants to be forced into anything.
Even if the option is perfect in every single way, it’s human nature to balk at the idea if you feel like there’s no other choice in the matter. Come up with a series of options and present them clearly. If at all possible, the final choice should be theirs.
It’s often the case that even if things do happen and changes need to be made in your parent’s care structure, it doesn’t have to happen all at once. Maybe they can stay in their house for months or years longer with a little help from an in-home care companion. Or, maybe independent living within a smaller, safer environment is the right choice.
This step isn’t an argument for letting things drag on and postponing the inevitable. Instead, it’s all about recognizing the appropriate steps you can take throughout the transition from taking care of themselves and others to being taken care of by loving, skilled, compassionate professionals.
No matter what situation you and your parent might find yourselves in when it comes to their future, remember: empathy and kindness are key. Put yourself in their shoes. See things from their perspective.
Then, when you find the right solution, the chances of everyone being happy with the outcome are far more likely.