I have the pleasure of speaking with many adult children every day. As a senior resource counselor, I am thrilled to be a resource to each of these personal journeys into the world of assisted living. One common theme I hear is adult children wanting to let this decision be made by their parent. While I see why children may feel this is best, I often see that it causes mom or dad to move in to assisted living as a result of a crisis, which leads to a very stressful introduction to assisted living. Loved ones can avoid this unhappy and stressful moving frenzy with a little advance planning.
I have found a couple of things that can help. First, allow your loved one to make the choice, but try and limit those choices. For example, the choices may be assisted living in their home town, or assisted living near their adult children. By empowering our parents to make the choice, weighing out the pros and cons, we are encouraging independence. Notice, staying in their own home is not one of the choices. Of course this is much easier said than done, but it is important we not only empower our parents, but also put their wellbeing first. Oftentimes, staying at home is no longer an option.
Another tip would be to allow yourself to become accustomed with the role reversal process. If you are an adult child caregiving for your parent, that is role reversal. Particularly when there is memory loss involved, senior parents often want their adult children to make the decision for them. If a husband is contemplating assisted living for his wife, he often needs his children to make the decision for him, which removes some of the burden of making such a huge decision alone. Remember that this decision will only heavily weigh on you and your family for a short time until mom or dad is in a senior living community where, in exchange for this burden, mom or dad’s life will be greatly improved.
The last tip, and probably the most important, is in regards to your delivery, and how you begin the assisted living conversation. I have found that your mood affects how you convey this decision to your parents, not your words, necessarily. Families that deliver the idea of assisted living with phrasing like, “I have found you the best community,” “The view is amazing,” “You will love it,” etc., work out better. Starting out this delicate conversation with phrases like, “We want to talk about your needs,” “You need help and can’t live alone anymore,” etc., all create a negative and defensive conversation.
If you simply cannot get your parents to budge, offer a respite stay in assisted living. This may be a 30-day trail to see if mom or dad likes assisted living. With this option, we are promising the option of going back home and removing the stress of packing and moving furniture. Pack a small bag with his or her clothes, personal items and some pictures to personalize the living space. As time goes on, you may drop off dad’s favorite chair, or replace the night stand with mom’s antique one. Before you know it, mom or dad just might want to stay.
If you are in the beginning stages of seeking some level of senior care for your loved one, try taking the Sunrise Care Questionnaire. In just a few minutes, you can find out which level of care your loved one may need before setting up an in-person care assessment at your local Sunrise community. Click here to get started!