Sometimes it’s obvious when it’s time for elderly parents to make the move to an assisted living facility. But the change process is rarely smooth. Maybe one parent wants to move more than another one does, or maybe both parents have apprehensions about the decision. Here’s how to help with the transition—and try to arrive at the best solution for everyone.
Avoid dictating to a reluctant parent
Even if a move is essential for health purposes, nobody wants to be told they must move. And being forced to move can be just as devastating to an elderly parent as the move itself—it shows them they no longer have autonomy over their lives. If one or both parents is reluctant to move, talk to them about the pros and cons of staying versus leaving, and give them time to grow accustomed to the idea.
Moving to a continuing care or assisted living facility can be a welcome change—but even if everyone’s in favor, it can also be highly stressful.
Sit down with your parents to make a list of what they need most in an assisted living facility—whether that’s fun activities, a certain apartment size or number of bedrooms or bathrooms, transportation services, good food, friendly staff, pet-friendliness, or other amenities. Allowing them to pinpoint what’s important will help them feel invested in the process and in control. Don’t allow your parents to let you make all the decisions.
Talk about other options
If one or both parents don’t want to make the move, allow yourself to discuss other options. Is in-home care an option? How about remodeling the house to make it more friendly to a handicapped or elderly resident? Discuss the specific pros and cons of certain options, including the financial side—and be honest about whether a solution puts too much pressure on you. For instance, mom and dad might want to stay at home, but without the ability to drive, you’d have to take them to all their appointments. Help them get a sense of what’s realistic, and bear in mind that it’s possible that there’s a better option than assisted living.
Bring your parents on a visit
If they can go on a visit, bring them along. They’re the ones who will have to live at the facility—so they should get a chance to see it beforehand. Let them evaluate the friendliness of the staff and the ambience themselves. It’s possible none of the facilities you visit will have all the amenities they wanted—but at least they’ll be active in the decision-making process and will be able to decide where to make compromises on their own.
Help deal with finances
Dealing with the financial aspect of moving to a continuing care or assisted living facility can be the most difficult part of all. Even if your parents have long-term care insurance, the costs can be high—and there may be many different aspects of funding that will have to be dealt with. It can help to have one person in charge of managing finances. But don’t make the decisions unilaterally. Be sure your parents are on board with all decisions.
Moving to a continuing care or assisted living facility can be a welcome change—but even if everyone’s in favor, it can also be highly stressful. And it becomes even more so when one parent is more in favor of the move than another, or if both don’t want to move despite health issues that make it imperative. Be sure to hear them out, explore every option with them, and let them feel as though they aren’t being forced into the decision—and they’re much more likely to make a decision that everyone can live with.