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Talking to an Elderly Loved One About Moving into Assisted Living

It can be tough to watch our older loved ones age. After years of being strong and independent, they suddenly have trouble grooming, forget to take medications, or have near misses with the car.

Eventually, it will come to a point where they’ll need help carrying out basic activities of daily life (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, preparing meals, taking medication, using the toilet, and running simple errands.

At this stage of life, it makes sense for the older person to move into an Assisted Living facility. These facilities will provide almost all of the support they need to thrive and continue having an optimal quality of life.

Surely if you present your case to the older adult, they’ll see it as the most pragmatic approach to the difficulties they’re having and begin planning their move right away.

Not likely. You’ll likely come up against an unexpected wall of resistance. As an advisor with Assisted Living Locators of Long Island (Mike McClernon, 516-254-9481), I’ve heard about this quite a lot.

The older adult’s reaction is entirely natural. After all, they’ve been bathing, dressing, and driving themselves for decades – and long before you were born. Admitting that they need help with the most basic daily tasks is tantamount to giving up their independence. Nobody wants to do that.

Also, they’ll have to leave the home they’ve lived in for decades and created a lifetime of many memories in. It will also mean getting rid of things they’ve gathered over the years – a monumental, emotional task that is easier to put off than face.

So, you both now find yourselves at an impasse. Continuing with a cavalier approach by insisting that Assisted Living is “best” for them will probably dissolve into an argument. You might not even speak for a few days while things cool down. In the meantime, the older person is still not properly taking care of themselves, missing medications, and climbing behind the wheel when they shouldn’t be.

I believe the keys to successfully introducing the idea of Assisted Living in a more progressive, supportive, and informed manner are preparation, organization, and empathy. Here are seven tips that may help move the discussions forward:

1. Be empathetic 

Before starting the conversation, put yourself in their position. How would you feel if you were starting to lose your independence or facing health issues? Have compassion for your older loved one as they realize that they might need help with ADLs, and provide reassurance that you’ll always be in their corner.

2. Do your research

Be ready for many questions from your older loved one when you broach the topic of Assisted Living. Conduct online research and read authoritative articles on the benefits of Assisted Living, so your discussion is as productive as possible.

3. Be transparent about your concerns

The older adult might not realize they need help in some cases. If you have concerns about their health and safety while they’re alone, tell them in an open and supportive way. Examples you could calmly and gently cite could be if their usually neat home is unkempt, if there’s been a noticeable change in their weight or hygiene, or if you have concerns about their ability to drive.

4. Prioritize their need

Always center the conversation around their health needs and personal safety, not about what’s easier or convenient for you. Ask about what’s most important to them to maintain an optimal quality of life, including healthcare and social needs, and explain how Assisted Living can help them thrive while having their necessities looked after. Advisors such as Assisted Living Locators of Long Island can help match your parents with the perfect senior living community.

5. Present options without making decisions

It might be tempting to take the lead and start making decisions. As well-intentioned as your actions might be, the older person will still want to retain a level of independence by making the final decisions. You can keep them engaged, interested, and open to new ideas by involving them in making choices about their next stage in life.

6. Be realistic about costs

Talking about money is often a tricky topic for families. The reality is that senior community living can be expensive, especially if your loved one needs a higher level of care. Many options, such as long-term care insurance, can help pay for care down the road while preserving as much of the older person’s savings as possible. Discuss ways you can fund senior care with your Assisted Living Locators advisor.

7. Give them time to decide

Chances are, the older adult won’t decide on Assisted Living after the first few conversations. Don’t rush things or become impatient or frustrated – you risk minimizing the chances of having future productive discussions. Also, consider that they might also be confused, forgetful, or indecisive due to the physical and mental changes that occur naturally as one ages. Let decisions be made at their pace so they feel in control throughout the process.

Even if you approach the topic of Assisted Living with as much empathy as you can muster, you may still face resistance. That’s okay – accepting change is a process. Deep down, your loved one appreciates your love and concern, and in time they should begin to open up to transitioning into senior care.

Help with choosing Assisted Living care on Long Island 

Searching for the Assisted Living, Memory Care, or Skilled Nursing facility for your loved one can be a complex process, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. Assisted Living Locators of Long Island makes the whole process easier for you and your family.

We specialize in helping to match older adults with the most suitable senior living community. Our team will do all the research based on your loved one’s needs, present a list of best-suited facilities in the Long Island area, and accompany you on the community tour to ensure all your questions and concerns are answered.

Assisted Living Locators of Long Island is your trusted advisor in making the most informed choice on where your older loved ones will live during their vintage years. Contact Mike McClernon of Assisted Living Locators of Long Island at 516-254-9481 or when you’re ready to explore senior living community options for the older person in your life. We’re always happy to help.