Independence, the ability to age in place with the necessary care services, the cost savings compared to other care options, and the lively, active communities that are so different from traditional fears of nursing homes are all reasons why assisted living is an obvious choice for a senior care community. But it’s still not easy to talk to a loved one about making the big move.
Putting off the conversation can lead to serious long-term consequences, so it’s important to have that discussion sooner rather than later—no matter how difficult it is. Here’s some of the best ways to plan for an open and honest talk with your loved one about making an assisted living community their new home.
Signs to Look Out For
There may be a single specific reason or several smaller ones for wanting to move your loved one to an assisted living community, but here are a few common signs to be on the lookout for as your loved one ages.
- They are isolated are no longer socializing with others
- You aren’t sure if they are eating, or they are losing weight and consistently have an empty fridge
- They can no longer drive, or don’t have reliable transportation to necessary places (such as the doctor’s office or the grocery store)
- They have a steadily declining hygiene
- They have lost interest in activities they used to enjoy
- Their house is becoming dirty and cluttered
- They can’t remember where they are and get lost in familiar places—or are becoming forgetful in general (forgetting to pay bills, take important medications, turn off the oven, or take out the trash)
- They have fallen and injured themselves at home
- They need to be checked in on regularly
- They frequently need medical care
It’s important that you go into the conversation with a solid plan. Get the essential family members—such as your siblings—involved and ensure that all of you are on the same page about what you want to talk to your family member about. You don’t want the conversation about assisted living to turn into a family argument, which only adds stress to an already stressful topic of discussion.
It’s also important that you learn about different senior care options and go into the conversation informed—especially about why you recommend assisted living over a nursing home or home care. Have a list of communities that might be good fits and a detailed explanation of what types of daily care services and skilled medical care they provide at the ready.
Find the Right Time
Picking the right time to bring up assisted living is essential to ensuring the conversation is productive. Make sure you do it in person, not over the phone. This will likely be a conversation that takes some time, so don’t try and squeeze it into a packed day. Make it a priority and clear your schedule.
However, don’t hold the conversation during a holiday or family reunion—these events are special and you shouldn’t put a loved one on the spot during a happy celebration. Ensure that you find a neutral day and gather the family to talk to your loved one in a group setting that is comfortable, not accusatory.
During the conversation, it’s important you stay calm and don’t let your emotions overtake the discussion. Be honest and upfront about your intentions during the talk, but don’t try to push your loved one into a decision that they aren’t yet ready for.
- “Do you feel safe at home? Are you worried about what would happen if you fell or hurt yourself and no one was around?”
- “Are you struggling with remembering important things?”
- “Do you need help around the house that isn’t being provided right now? Are you able to cook meals and get to the store?”
- “Do you miss being close to your friends or having plans for things to do?”
- “Are you concerned about what’s going to happen to your independence or mobility as you age?”
- “Would you like to feel more secure and have a community around you for support?”
The first conversation about assisted living shouldn’t be an immediate decision—after all, your loved one’s opinions and feelings should be at the center of the discussion and they need to be comfortable with moving forward. Working together to find the right community is key to ensuring that your loved one feels respected and included throughout the process.
Research together with your family member and go on community tours with the family to help them feel confident in their choice of a new home. Remember—this is an incredibly difficult task your loved one is about to face. But by keeping their feelings at the heart of all decisions, the conversation about assisted living can lead to great things for your loved one.