When considering moving a parent into an assisted living community, many family members find themselves struggling with the decision. You are not alone during this journey. I will share my father’s story with you because you may find yourself needing to have a conversation with your loved one about their future care needs.
One of the major challenges your loved one may struggle with is the idea that their independence is being taken away and they may express that you are interfering with their lives. So, what is the best approach?
Start the conversation early so that the choice can be their own. My father loved living on his own, but his nearest neighbor lived more than a mile away. Getting emergency medical treatment required GPS coordinates. Along with his failing health, it became very difficult for him to care for himself and be safe. When I would approach my father about moving into town, he would protest. As his daughter, I disagreed, but I also understood what “quality of life” meant to him and how it differed from what I envisioned.
I proactively took my father to assisted living communities to show him what options are available. He humored me, but told me that he wanted to stay in his home for as long as possible. Even though I wanted to honor his request I chose to put him on a waiting list, just in case. Approximately six months later, he admitted that he was having difficulty caring for himself and wanted to consider other living arrangements closer to me. I was relieved and initiated the move immediately to the assisted living that I thought was the best fit for my dad. The best decision I made was putting my dad on a waiting list, as it allowed me to be able to move my dad on my terms, instead of desperately trying to find a place for him to live when often assisted livings can be full to capacity.
Even though it was his choice, his independence still was threatened. Since this is a difficult topic, many of these conversations tend to occur in a crisis. This only adds stress to your relationship. This is why it’s important to discuss this early on in their golden years. Early conversations are typically non-threatening and you can gain insight to what “independence” and “quality of life” mean to them.
Many assisted living communities host events on a regular basis. These will provide you with an opportunity to visit the community and get a sense of the overall feel. I would suggest attending these events or presentations with your loved one. Also, find out if your favorite assisted living community allows you to take advantage of their life enrichment activities. This way your loved one can personally experience the food, meet the staff and participate in activities without being a resident. This can be beneficial when the time comes for them to move as they will already have already created relationships with staff and other residents.
Moving can feel overwhelming, but by taking a few steps, it can actually be a smooth process. Be proactive in the search for your loved one’s senior living community, and help them transition on their terms as much as possible. From my own personal experience, I can say that I have peace of mind knowing my dad is safe and receiving care that allows him to enjoy the rest of his golden years in a safe and caring environment. FBN
By Leah Veschio, RN, MSN