There has never been a time when adult children of aging parents had an easy way to broach the subject of assisted living. It is usually the result of being increasingly concerned for the safety and wellbeing of parents who are no longer able to do everyday tasks that once were simple for them. Even showering has become dangerous, and it only takes falling just once to break a hip. Although you know the time has come, how do you approach the subject? Additionally, how can you make the transition as smooth and stress-free as possible?
1. Never Call It a Nursing Home – Unless It Is!
There is something about the term ‘nursing home’ that seems to carry a stigma for so many people. Perhaps it’s all the horror stories we’ve heard over the years about how patients are neglected, abused, and left unattended for hours on end. Although many of these stories we’ve heard are just that, stories, they are what we remember most. Also, the thought of giving up our independence rankles. Unless your parents need that level of care, don’t refer to assisted living or independent living as a nursing home. There really is something in a name.
2. Assure Them They Can Bring Their Companion Pet
You may need to do a bit of searching for pet-friendly senior living, but it is out there. Once you have found senior living communities that allow pets, it’s a matter of discovering what kinds of pets they allow. For example, St. Louis Hills is a pet-friendly senior living community that recognizes the importance of companion pets, which they fondly refer to as family members. One thing you should be aware of, however, is that some breeds are considered dangerous. Even if there is no pit bull legislation in your state, there may be bylaws of the senior living community you are interested in.
3. Reassure Them You Will Visit Often
Perhaps their greatest ‘fear’ is that you will no longer visit them several times a week. After all, why should you when there is on-site staff doing many of the things you have been doing in recent years? One suggestion is that you explain how this will give you more time to do fun things with them like taking them out to lunch or to the movies. Explain that by residing in an assisted living community, staff go beyond helping them with the same things you have been doing. Explain that there will always be someone there 24/7 who can help change a lightbulb or reset a circuit breaker if a storm caused a surge.
Closing the Deal
Explain to them that they can bring their most cherished possessions and that you will see to having their apartment decorated and laid out much like the family home so they can get around comfortably. You can make the transition as smooth as possible if you bring in the old with the new. It will be less confusing and more comfortable. Don’t forget to remind them that they will have their fur baby with them so the only thing that’s changed is location and levels of safety. Approach it as an adventure and see how quickly their excitement builds.