For many people the process of coping with an elderly parent or loved one is difficult enough. Among other things, suddenly you are faced with the responsibility of the very individuals that have always taken charge of any and all situations in front of them. The daunting conversations with mom and dad about the transition you yourself have never experienced or know anything about. Sound familiar?
Talking to your loved ones about the possibility of moving in to an assisted-living community is perhaps one of the most controversial topics within a family and if not executed properly, can completely alter family dynamics. There are numerous articles centered on the complexity of dealing with an elderly loved one. Although there is no simple solution to making this transition any easier, with my research and experience I have found that timing and patience is everything.
The earlier you can plant the seed; the better! This scenario is rarely implemented because of the lack of preparation for this part of an individual’s life. Often times we tend to push aside emotionally difficult tasks. If, at all possible, you can speak with mom and dad about their preferences or the idea of assisted living and independent living before it becomes an absolute necessity, it can prevent the surprise factor which plays a huge role in the opposition to this transition. This will allow your family and loved ones time to optimistically consider the options and possibilities for when the time does arrive.
A constantly pressing issue is the negative perception associated with the image of “senior living facilities.” This somewhat skewed image of moving out of your home to face one’s mortality can add difficulty when convincing your loved one to consider the move. It is important to note that, over the past few decades, significant changes have been made to improve the quality of life in these facilities which have truly evolved in to small communities where one can thrive in many different areas, socially. Provide your loved ones the opportunity to visit, tour, have lunch, or even temporarily live at a community. This will allow you and your family to observe the atmosphere and get acquainted with the staff and residents.
It is also important that your loved one does not feel pressured in to permanent change. The wall of resistance can come from a variety of emotions; such as the fear of losing their independence to burdening those around them. If possible, this is a transition they need to be allowed to ease in to one step and conversation at a time. Use effective, open-ended dialogue and try to understand what they are feeling. Listen to their concerns, worries and hopes for the future. Do your best to include them in the financial planning while also talking to them about what they are looking for in a community or care-giver.
With proper planning and patience your loved one will feel much more involved in the process and could perhaps be put at ease with the understanding that this is not a role-reversal, rather a guiding hand through a very significant transition. One that can provide an individual with social stimulation and active opportunities in their latter days. If you or a loved one needs any assistance with locating or contacting a community, please reach out to our Placement providers. We look forward to assisting you with this process.
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