Assisted living homes outnumber traditional nursing homes, and it’s not even close. In the United States, there were about 30,000 assisted living and residential care facilities as of 2014. There were about 15,000 nursing homes.
Those numbers can provide comfort for senior citizens who believe that, if they can’t live at home, they must live in a traditional nursing home. That’s not the case in 2019.
Caring for aging parents requires walking a fine line. You have to give them the respect they deserve. At the same time, you must also figure out when they’re no longer safe in their own home.
Adult children agonize over how to get parents into assisted living. Read on for some tips that will help.
Look at Every Option
A survey from 2016 found that health problems and loss of memory are two of the biggest worries people have about getting older.
From the time we’re kids, we’re taught to care for ourselves and become self-sufficient. The worry that we will no longer be able to care for ourselves is enough to keep anyone up at night.
You won’t do your aging parent any favors by dismissing those fears. Avoid saying things like “You’re being silly” or “That’s ridiculous.” You may think it’s helpful, but it’s not.
There are very few cases when you can talk to a parent once and convince them to leave their house. Learning how to talk to elderly parents about assisted living takes a lot of time and work.
In the meantime, make sure you’ve given aging in a place a fair chance. Sure, you’d feel better if your parent didn’t live alone. That’s natural, but you still need to look at your home care options first.
Medical alert devices can help both you and your parent feel better about staying in their home. It’s 2019, so there are even devices with built-in automatic fall detection.
These wearable devices use technology to detect if your parent has a fall. If they do, a dispatcher from a 24/7 monitoring center will try to make contact with your parent.
At that point, your parent can request help from either paramedics or a family member like yourself. If your parent can’t respond, paramedics will show up.
Don’t Act Pushy
What if your parent does fall at their home? By one count, 33 percent of those over 65 experience a fall at least once a year.
One study found that older women are more likely to fall inside their house. Older men are more likely to fall while they’re outdoors in a place like the garden.
If your mom or dad falls, your first response might be panic. Even if a medical alert system detects the fall, you may think, “We got lucky this time.” That feeling can make you act pushy and even rude.
It’s not helpful to shout or yell. You should not say things like “We’re calling assisted living facilities tomorrow and getting you out of here by the end of the week.”
Your parent can hear things like that and feel like they’re getting threatened. That makes them more likely to resist your overtures, even if you mean well.
Remember how much you hated getting patronized as a teenager or young adult? Recall that feeling and try to be as careful as possible with your words.
Want to know how to convince a parent to go to assisted living? Get used to hearing the word “no,” at least at first.
Do Your Diligence
If you need to know how to convince your parents to move, do some research on local assisted living facilities. The more research, the better.
Members of a certain generation hear the words “assisted living” and assume that they’re getting moved to a bad place. It’s your job to assure them that is not the case.
Some facilities are much better-run than others. Look up your state’s regulatory board. You can often go online to look up a place’s safety record.
Talk to home health professionals in your area about what separates good assisted living facilities from bad ones. You should also feel free to include your parent’s primary physician in the conversation.
Why is that important? Some parents won’t listen to their children, but they will listen to a medical professional. If you say, “Hey, I think you would feel safer in long-term care,” they may write it off as nagging.
But a doctor should have more experience bringing up the topic. They can broach it in a way that feels natural.
Doing your diligence also means visiting assisted living facilities for tours. At first, you may have to tour the places by yourself. But if you find a good facility, tell your parent.
Say things like “Hey, that place on the north side of town seems really warm and social.” That may lead them to ask more questions.
Be as patient as you can without risking anyone’s safety. In an ideal world, your parent will reach a point where they bring up assisted living without any prompting from you. You can prepare for that day by getting more info here.
Let’s say that your parent calls you one day and casually mentions a task that was harder than usual to do. They then say, “You know, I wonder if living alone makes sense anymore.”
Don’t respond with “Finally!” Instead, say something like “That’s up to you, but here’s what we could do.” Again, you don’t want them to feel railroaded into anything.
You’ve heard of risk-free trials. But you may not know that many assisted living facilities offer something similar. Your parent may be able to move into a facility for a few days without committing to it long-term.
If they like it, they can stay. But if not, let them know that you’ll be happy to try something else.
How to Get Parents into Assisted Living
There’s no universal way to figure out how to get parents into assisted living. If there were, then every adult child would do it.
Look at the process as something you do with your parent rather than something you do at them. You may get frustrated, but you should still bring a sense of empathy with you to every conversation.
Need help developing more empathy? Check out our blog post on things no one tells you about aging. It may give you a better idea of how your parent feels.