How to Talk to Reluctant Loved Ones About Transitioning to Assisted Living

How to Talk to Reluctant Loved Ones About Transitioning to Assisted Living

Sometimes, when older adults begin to need more care and assistance than can be reasonably provided at home, they realize the time is right to begin looking into assisted living facilities.

It is frustratingly commonplace, though, for older adults to resist that transition – maybe passively, maybe tooth and nail. If you know people with aging parents, you’ve no doubt heard stories of the perils of moving a parent to assisted living.

You might come away from those experiences with the impression that these difficult conversations inevitably lead to fights. But they don’t have to. It’s not, by any stretch of the imagination, easy – but if you approach it right, you can make this process a lot more comfortable for all parties involved.

Approaching the Conversation

A common regret among people who’ve helped loved ones make the move to assisted living is “I should have had the conversation sooner.” If you’ve been putting off the conversation, start it now. Even if you haven’t been putting off the conversation but have loved ones who are encountering limitations because of their age, it might be worth starting it early.

How to Broach the Subject

Some key points to have in mind when you’re ready to talk about it:

  • Start the conversation gradually, and over time; don’t overwhelm your loved one with information.
  • Emphasize the broad range of options available among nearby assisted living facilities.
  • Give your loved one the opportunity to help make decisions, even if they’re as simple as deciding when to schedule appointments.
  • Use examples of occasions on which the help offered by an assisted living facility would have been valuable – a fall, a health scare, a breakdown in communication – to bolster your argument, but don’t make that point during or immediately after a crisis. Wait until tensions are no longer high.
  • Don’t feel as though the conversation has to take place all at once. If you’re not making progress, take a step back and revisit the topic at a later time.

Listen to Your Loved Ones’ Thoughts and Concerns

It’s not a coincidence that we’re using the word “conversation” here – you shouldn’t be the only one talking. If your loved one expresses concerns, be sure to listen and hear them out, even if they don’t make sense to you at first. Empathize with their resistance to change and try to understand their fears of the unknown.

You Don’t Have to Go it Alone

Finally, don’t feel as though you need to be the only one pushing this idea. Find others who can support you – a doctor, a clergy member, or a friend or family member who’s already moved into assisted living and is enjoying it. The more good things your loved one hears from credible people they know and trust, the more open they may be.

Crafting Your Message

You’ll want to come prepared with a list of reasons why assisted living is a smart and practical idea for your loved one and your family. Besides emphasizing how it could have helped with past challenges, you can emphasize ways in which it could help in the future. You can give an overview of the things your loved one will no longer have to worry about, or the things for which they’ll more readily find help with when they can’t perform the tasks themselves. Think mowing the lawn, housekeeping and replacing precariously perched light bulbs.

Express Less Stress for Everyone

There’s also the stress factor to consider. Responsibilities around the house, potential future health needs, and risks of falls only cause more and more stress on a person as their physical ability declines. This stress can also be passed onto you or other family members. Talk to your loved one about your stress too – how difficult it is for you to take on a steadily increasing list of responsibilities and how much you worry about not being able to help when something goes wrong.

What’s Best for The Spouse?

Making an argument for assisted living takes on a new dimension when you’re talking about multiple people. Maybe you have one aging parent who’s as sharp and active today as they ever were – and one who’s declining physically or cognitively. You can frame that conversation around what’s best for your other parent: “Wouldn’t you rather she be somewhere where she can have around-the-clock care?” “What happens the next time you fall and he can’t help you?”

Focus on the Benefits

Assisted living communities today offer many benefits that seniors and their families may not know of. Besides 24-7 care and help with activities of daily living, many communities, like Wesley Ridge, offer opportunities focused around physical, mental, social, and spiritual wellbeing. Residents in assisted living communities not only receive the care they need but will also find the quality of life they desire.

Today’s assisted living facilities feature more opportunities to socialize, more privacy and autonomy for those who want them, more opportunities for independence, and – in general – much higher happiness and peace of mind.

Identifying Your Needs

On top of that, specialized care is readily available for any resident who needs it. Problems with mobility, balance, vision, hearing, memory, etc. are cause for major concern at home, but in a high-quality assisted living facility, there are resources for all of them. And those resources are right around the corner; no need to constantly schedule (and, sometimes, drive to) visits to the doctor’s office.

Get a Closer Look

Most assisted living facilities are enthusiastic about showing you what they have to offer. Arrange a tour. Plan a visit to check out some of the amenities. Bring your loved one by to check out the fitness center, art studio, movie theater, garden, etc. Seeing these positive attributes in person may be more persuasive than any verbal argument.

Making Difficult Conversations a Little Easier

For many people with aging family members, the path from that first conversation to move-in day is long. For some, there may be no way to avoid some animosity. But you can make the process as smooth as possible. At Wesley Ridge, we’re always available to assist however we can to help transition your loved one into a position of safety, security and satisfaction. Reach out to us today, and we’ll be happy to give you more information.


[Contact the Wesley Ridge Team]