Broaching the subject of a move to assisted living is rarely comfortable. Your own concerns about your loved one’s health and safety can often be met with grief, fear, and resistance as your loved one confronts this major life transition. Fortunately, there are ways to make the conversation easier. Here are some tips for approaching the subject in a way that fosters as smooth a transition as possible.
1. Start the Conversation Early
If possible, start the discussion before your loved one even needs assisted living. There will be less anxiety clouding the conversation if it’s begun before a crisis forces the issue or declining cognitive or physical abilities disrupt your loved one’s life. A casual question about their thoughts about the future can help create an opening for the discussion.
2. Recognize Signs That Help Is Needed
Many seniors resist admitting to themselves or others that their ability to handle life on their own is declining. Recognizing the signs of physical and cognitive decline can help you see when your loved one needs help. Here’s what to watch for:
- Forgetfulness that endangers them, such as forgetting to turn off the stove
- Depression, which may be evident in moodiness, irritability, fatigue, insomnia or sadness
- An increase in bruises, scrapes, falls
- Noticeable weight loss
- Poor hygiene
- An uptick in the number of fender benders or dents in the car
- Untidy or unsanitary living conditions
- Missed social activities
3. Prepare for the Discussion
There’s a general misconception that assisted living communities are dreary, lifeless resting places for the aged. In reality, the best assisted living communities are vital and supportive environments where many seniors live happier, more engaged lives than they could at home. Researching senior living options in your area before you have your talk can prepare you to allay your loved one’s fears. If you’re planning a purposeful discussion or family meeting, it can also be helpful to rehearse ahead of time. Envision possible objections, plan your responses and school yourself to stay calm and empathetic.
4. Engage with Compassion
The decision to move into assisted living is often an emotional one. The transition can force seniors to confront uncomfortable realities of aging and mortality. Acknowledging these feelings and letting them know your goal is to help them live with as much independence and joy as possible can help your loved one feel understood and supported.
5. Be Honest
It can be awkward to point out to someone you love that you’re seeing signs they need help. It’s also painful for them to hear it. Nevertheless, an honest, yet gentle, description of your concerns can help your loved one face their new reality.
6. Be Patient
You may be ready to get your family member settled into a senior living community where they’ll get the support they need, but they’ll likely need time to adjust to the new plan. Expect to revisit the conversation many times and give your loved one space to come to terms with the idea.
7. Let Your Loved One Take Charge
As much as possible, allow your loved one’s suggestions and preferences to dictate the decisions you make. They’ll likely enjoy having a sense of control over the process, and you’ll be glad to know the choices you make are in step with their wishes.
8. Visit Senior Living Communities Together
Touring an assisted living community firsthand can be a game changer. Both you and your loved one may feel more optimistic about the upcoming transition when you see how the amenities and services in the community support independence, connection and engagement.
The Benefits of Assisted Living at Legacy Pointe at UCF
If someone you know needs a helping hand, assisted living at Legacy Pointe at UCF may be the perfect fit. We offer support with activities of daily living, such as managing medications or grooming, so your loved one can meet life with more confidence and well-being. They can move directly into our assisted living community (or memory care or skilled nursing) with no entrance fee required. Our ties with UCF give residents access to amenities like engaging lectures and fitness programs designed by UCF’s College of Education and Human Performance. Your loved one can socialize with new friends in our heated outdoor pool, relax with therapeutic massage and get creative in our art studio. Plus, multiple dining venues ensure they’re eating delicious and nourishing meals. Want to learn more about assisted living at Legacy Pointe at UCF? Contact us today for more information or to schedule a tour.