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How to Have the Discussion About Moving into an Assisted Living

By Linda McKenna Posted on July 9, 2018

Having a discussion with your parents about assisted living can be very emotional and difficult for all involved, even you! Most parents, and in fact most seniors, refuse this needed transition because they feel they are being involuntarily removed from their homes and are about to lose all control – especially their independence. This discussion is usually neglected due to children and spouses being fearful of how their loved ones are going to react, or even acknowledging the concern their family is having regarding their future and quality of life.

This means that preparation and planning is vital while you have time to collect as much information before the situation becomes unbearable, and becomes imminent so that you have to work at a faster pace.  This preparation and planning process can erase some of the anxiety and uncertainty from the situation and corresponding dialogue, truly making it simpler for all involved.

7 Steps to Successfully Discussing Long Term Care

When it’s the appropriate time to have a discussion with your loved ones about moving into assisted living, these 7 steps and advice can create a healthier conversation instead of being considered accusatory and demanding.  Keep in mind that as the owner of Golden Rule Senior Placement Services, LLC – Linda McKenna explains how she is able to assist you and your loved thru this tedious and emotional process, “With my years of expertise in evaluating assisted living facility options, I can help navigate the selection with tours, have access to professional legal and financial support networks, and able to furnish you with resources along the way.”

  1. Become informed of the options. Before having the conversation with your loved one, it is very important for you to become informed about the variety of options within the senior living industry.  Each state has a multitude of options, rules and regulations – from where your loved one resides currently to where they may desire to eventually relocate to. Monthly costs change over time, so researching average costs for each type of community is essential for sustainability and transitioning.
    1. First and foremost you must become aware and educated about your loved ones’ current and future financial situation, along with the options to subsidize the move and ongoing care needs and services. Did they purchase long-term care insurance? Is your loved one a Veteran? Research the eligibility for Veteran’s benefits to assist in paying for long-term care while residing in an ALF – assisted living facility.  Bring valuable information and resources to the table instead of “chancing it” so that everyone will be able to base their ultimate decisions on facts and avoid unnecessary surprises or compromises.  Some elder loved ones keep their personal finances very private.
  2. Have ongoing discussions about future plans. Approaching this discussion with your loved ones are still able to live safely alone, gives you the opportunity to discuss the future in a non-auspicious, proposed and debatable way. In this instance your loved ones won’t be feeling that “their kids are ganging up on them” and that the discussion has to occur right now. Rather, the discussion can be considered a process where all of the members of the family’s thoughts and opinions can be heard, and there is no pressure of the need for an immediate decision.
    1. It is advisable to have the discussion in a comfortable setting, such as the living room or at the kitchen table. Begin by stating, “We are aware this conversation is hard on you and your independence, but we want assure and honor all your wishes. For us to be able to accommodate all that, we need to know exactly what your plans and thoughts are for the future. We are not asking you to decide on everything today, but we just want to start having a conversation to keep what we discuss today and all along in mind so we all can be better prepared for the future.”
  3. Keep your promise in having your loved one involved in the decisions. All seniors want the option to choose where to live and what kind of care they receive. Just because they have aged does not mean that they don’t have a preference.  If your loved one is healthy enough to do so, ask them to join you in touring various senior living communities.   Being able to view these communities personally – perhaps by having a luncheon, observing an activity in progress, seeing a model apartment set up for move-in and  speaking with current residents about their own experiences residing at the community can have a major impact while making a decision for their own placement.
  4. Discussing the senior living options – should be in a positive fashion. A way to guarantee a successful discussion is for it go freely and willingly and for you to act gingerly in presenting it all – using positive and non-threatening words. Refer to assisted living as a “community” rather than a facility. Describe it as “apartment-style living” rather than “rooms.” Emphasize the array of planned activities, the bountiful amenities and social opportunities versus the medical need and assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs).
    The mode and style of your voice in these discussions can make a huge difference. Be mindful of maintaining a calm, quiet and pleasant tone to ensure your loved one of your compassion for them in facing this new chapter in their lives. Assure your loved one how important it is to you that they be the one to make the final decision. All of this fluid dialogue is a discussion, not a lecture, and needs to be handled with respect. Assure them of their feelings and opinions. If you loved one should get agitated, don’t respond with more hostility which can make a discussion become a shouting match, not ending very well.
  5. Recognize all the when it will happen and what-ifs. If both of your elderly parents are still alive and together, ask them both what their thoughts are about what may need to happen if one of them passes on. Should their home be sold? Should the surviving parent downsize or move into a senior community? Or would they consider moving into a senior living community together – and now – rather than later? Yes, this conversation can be quite difficult and sad, but this ‘talk’ will assist you in learning about your parents’ wishes for each other. Be empathetic on what they have discussed among themselves and have it be a continued conversation for future planning.
    1. Tell them both that you understand that this is an unpleasant scenario for us all to discuss and consider, but it is your intent to know what they want for one another to be able to carry out their wishes. Ask each of them separately as to what they would want for the other if the worst were to happen. You can only hope that they would want each other to be safe, medically and well-cared for, and financially stable. Ask them for their ideas and suggestions on how you can assist and help assure that their wishes are carried out.
  6. Appreciate and recognize why seniors desire to stay at home vs moving. Most seniors are not able to discuss specifically why they don’t want to move to a senior living community, but most truly feel that making this move will be their final residence. Your loved may also feel that their family relationship will change – and most of all they don’t want to lose their independence.  Being cognizant of their feelings and concerns while having these discussions will aid you answering their questions and help you be able to respond appropriately to their objections. Discuss services that you can bring into the home so they can remain living in their house a little longer, and what it costs to do that. Firmly express that moving into an assisted living does not mean they’ll no longer have control over their own daily life, but they will acquire guidance and management of their daily needs and be tended to in a fast and safe manner. When Seniors know that the tasks of housekeeping, laundry, shopping, cooking will be taken care of, they realize that they will have much more free time for the things they actually enjoy doing by themselves, and with others.
  7. Examine the continuum and decline of illness. If your loved one has been diagnosed with a health condition that progresses – such as Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease. Parkinson’s disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, etc. learn about how could impact their ability to stay at home safely or be able to make appropriate decisions about moving into senior living.
    1. Getting their doctor involved with future planning with your elderly parent can aid in providing options to the services offered by certain long-term care settings that could ultimately help them in the future. For example, it can be very disturbing to move an elder with dementia, but the move to appropriate setting at first with the plan that they will continue to receive more intensive care as they decline and even to end of life – hospice – in the same location.

Linda McKenna, Owner and Senior Care Advocate of Golden Rule Senior Placement Services, LLC assists you in this process, as well as suggests and emphasizes the need to have this financial information as it aides in the of knowing what they can ultimately afford in order to be able to provide options to meet their wishes and care needs. She provides analysis and planning assistance, as well as free guided tours of several of the options for Senior care in the Nature Coast area.

Keeping all these steps in tow is certainly not easy – but knowing that Linda McKenna of Golden Rule Senior Placement Services, LLC is here to personally assist you and your loved one through this transition stage – all while will navigating the most appropriate options that the senior living communities have to offer – and ultimately with a successful placement.  This process will not only give you a peace of mind – but will give your loved one a better quality of life – that they deserve!

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