For so many concerned adults, deciding when an elderly family member should move to assisted living only comprises half the struggle. So many older adults, regardless of their declining health, would rather live alone, or detest the idea of moving into assisted care. For younger family members, convincing a parent or other aging loved one that the time has come for assisted living can prove difficult and emotionally draining. Even worse, elderly adults facing rapidly declining health may not have time to argue before sustaining a major injury.
Though a delicate subject, friends and family concerned about older adults should bring up the topic of assisted living. Fortunately, medical professionals and psychiatrists can offer a few basic tips to prepare family members, young and old alike, for the conversation about assisted living.
Like so many of life’s crises, preparedness can best diffuse an explosion before it happens. In the case of selling an aging parent on assisted living, even bringing up the subject can have volatile, emotional consequences. Too often ailing elders, after confronted by younger relatives demanding he or she go into assisted living, react with anger. Their rage comes, in part, from pride—parents aren’t used to their children telling them what to do. Anger also comes from shock and frustration. Many adults don’t want to admit that the time has come for assisted living.
Doctors first recommend that families keep a regular, open dialogue with aging relatives. These frequent conversations will help concerned, younger family members apprised of an older relative’s mental and physical health, as well as any suspicious changes in behavior or injury that could indicate the need for assisted living. Regular chats also affirm the driving factor behind the need for assisted living in the first place: concern. Older adults often have a hard time letting go of responsibilities, or admitting that they need help. Frequent conversations help establish trust and comfort in discussing medical status, and options for the future.
Families—members, both young and old—can further prepare to send a relative to assisted living by touring different facilities before an elderly family member needs living assistance. Gathering information, visiting different homes for the elderly, and discussing them gives the ailing adult more of a say in his own destiny. When a parent or other older relative feels confident and in control of the choices determining their care and living situation, he or she will often accept assisted living more readily.
Older adults often require assisted living, which can become a point of contention between aging parents and adult children. Preparing for the inevitable discussion can diffuse the tension, and make selling a parent on assisted living far easier. Frequent conversations with aging relatives, as well as discussing different treatment options can make the elderly more accepting of life’s changes. Simple conversations can also give the elderly a feeling of control and confidence in accepted assisted living.