Does your mom or dad hate you?
Ok, not hate you, but do they resent you for bringing up the idea of assisted living. Or, are you scared they will?
It’s a touchy subject for sure. It’s the question of our generation, how to get parents into assisted living?
We don’t have all the answers, but we have some suggestions. You can read them below.
Where Do I Start?
Sometimes people think conversations are going to be hard to have because they’re hard to start. One doesn’t equal the other! You can have a hard conversation that is easy to start or you might start off an easy conversation just to have it get hard.
Whenever it’s time to have those conversations, we’re always shocked at how easily the words come out of our mouths. It may be hard to convince your brain to get them out, but your mouth knows what it’s doing.
The best way to convince your brain to slide some hard words to say out? Start small.
When you’re talking to someone about a lifestyle and living change, you can’t spring it on them all at once. They’re going to need time to wrap their brain around the idea.
Here’s how to do that.
Use Their Words
Does your parent complain about being bored or missing their friends? Use that as an opportunity to point out the socialization of assisted living.
Instead of saying “you’re going to be bored until you get into assisted living”, be more gentle. Say something like, you know, Sharon was having that issue too but she seems to have made friends at her new place.
She said that they always play cards before lunch and she wakes up looking forward to it.
Bringing someone they know into the picture helps them imagine themselves there. You’re also making them feel like going to assisted living fills one of their needs – not yours.
Use Events as a Springboard
We all get calls from our parents like, well I almost fell the other day but I caught myself! That worries us senseless. What if they hadn’t?
What if they were on the floor and couldn’t reach their phone? Who would find them? How could I help?
That’s a lot of anxiety and guilt for you – and also for them. They’re not clueless. They know what a fall could do to their daily routine and to their health.
Use this as a gentle way to suggest assisted living. Once the shock of the accident or nearly avoided accident wears off, tell them you worry.
You can say something like, “Hey mom, I was thinking about when you almost fell. That could have been really bad! Maybe its time to consider some more regular care?”
You’re worried about their wellbeing, so make them feel like it. One of the things we hear from the elderly most often is that they feel like they have no say in what happens.
If you come from a point of love and care, they’re more willing to listen.
If you can, stay away from arguments that make them sound incapable. They’re already frustrated with themselves for whatever they can’t do now that they used to do with no issues.
You’ll get a lot less pushback if you stay on the health route, not the your-brain-is-failing narrative.
Go See a Friend
Does your parent know someone who’s in a new home or is about to start? Go give them a visit or go with them on their tour, if they’ll have you.
This gives your loved one an idea of what they can expect. They may not know what a modern home looks like, except for on-screen depictions.
No, it’s not all people walking around in diapers. Showing them the differences in levels of care and letting them know they have a friendly face already there can ease some of their worries.
Note: This is a great idea – unless the home your friend is going to is out of the budget. You don’t want your loved one to try out the expensive facility, just for you to tell them it’s impossible.
It’s the equivalent of when someone tries on a $10,000 wedding dress and the ones in their budget never seem to measure up.
Join a Club
Sometimes, centers have activities that allow visitors in. Does the home you have in mind have a bridge club or the like?
Getting them involved with the home before they’re ready to transition sets up a foundation. Now they know people there, they’ve met some caretakers. and they’ve seen how people are treated.
Making sure they have a network will ease their transition when it’s time to move in.
How to Get Parents into Assisted Living When They’re Resisting
There’s nothing harder than … forcing an old dog to move dog houses? No, the expression doesn’t really translate. But plenty of grown children face almost vicious pushback when they suggest moving their parent to a home.
The parent feels attacked like their child doesn’t believe in their ability or wants to get rid of them. How would you feel if you thought everything was fine and your parent sprang “hey, we’re sending you to boarding school” on you?
Barry Jacobs, a psychologist says that there’s no special words or magic pill that will convince them. His most successful advice? Let the situation get worse before it gets better.
The next time they fall, almost fall or get scared, your suggestion will pop into their mind. Try again in a little while, but have a neighbor or friend check on them a couple times a week in the meantime.
In the end, you’re telling your parent that they’re too old to live the life they’ve always lived. That’s a big blow to the ego and to their self-image.
Use kind words and don’t use guilt as a way how to get parents into assisted living.
You may feel like they’re putting you through the wringer, but hey – you’ve probably been much worse to them. Think of it as universal retribution for all the times you were nasty as a teenager.
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