The decision to move your parents into assisted living is never easy. No one wants to sacrifice their independence, and even fewer people actively want to leave home. There are memories and lived experiences deeply connected with that home. But as time moves on, staying put isn’t always an option.
As parents age, independent living comes with increased safety risks. These include:
- Tangled cords and cables
- Deteriorating medical conditions
While there are medic alert systems an independent and senior parent can subscribe to, they can’t anticipate everything. And neither can you. What’s more, all advice says you shouldn’t try to do everything for your parents.
Efforts to combat every problem your aging parents encounter as it arises puts you and other familial caregivers at risk suffering from caregiver burnout.
Moreover, it’s challenging to be a parent to your parent. The increasing demands aging in place presents to parent-and-child can lead to situations that are at best awkward and at worst impossible for everyone involved.
So, while it’s natural to feel guilt over the decision to move your parents into assisted living, sometimes it’s the only viable solution that caters to everyone.
Tips for Moving Parents Into Assisted Living
We’ve compiled a list of tips for moving your parents into assisted living with that in mind. Hopefully, it makes you and them feel better about the decision while making the process easier to navigate.
1. Make Moving into Assisted Living a Discussion
The first tip for moving your parents into assisted living is to ensure you broach the subject in an open-ended way. It’s essential that your parents feel you are having a discussion, rather than presenting them with a predetermined outcome.
With that in mind, experts recommend that you start discussing the possibility of assisted living before it becomes necessary. This will give your parents time to acclimatize to the idea and even accept it.
It’s also vital that when discussing the possibility of moving your parents into assisted living, you continue to emphasize your reasons for your decision. These may include:
Multi-generational living isn’t a solution that works for every family; Something worth keeping in mind while finding a solution that does work will ultimately benefit you and your parents in the long run.
2. Research Assisted Living Thoroughly
Another tip for moving your parents into assisted living is to do your research. The ability to cite facts and figures will only strengthen the case for moving your parents into assisted living.
Moreover, because no two circumstances are the same, research will help you find an assisted living accommodation that best matches what your parents are looking for.
Many include practical assistance with daily chores like:
But it’s important when discussing moving your parents into assisted living that while health care is integral to assisted living, it’s not the facility’s only concern. Many assisted living quarters also include:
- Worship spaces
- Social groups
3. Use Teachable Moments to Further Talks About Assisted Living
As you continue to discuss moving your parents into assisted living, another tip is to make use of “Teachable Moments.”
If an opportunity presents itself, such as your mother tripping over household clutter or your father experiencing a driving misadventure, make use of it. These can form the basis of a strong argument for assisted living.
When capitalizing on these opportunities, it’s helpful to keep the conversation positive. Our reflex as people is to become defensive when threatened with a loss of independence. With that in mind, try to focus less on what might have happened and more on how assisted living would prevent it from happening again.
4. Highlight the Benefits of Assisted Living
Further, as you continue to explore the possibility of moving your parents into assisted living, couple those teaching moments with talk about the benefits of assisted living.
These may include:
- 24/7 assistance
- Opportunities to keep active
- Socializing opportunities
- Less to maintain
- Communal dining
One of the key benefits of assisted living is its emphasis on community. As parents age, it’s easy for their isolation to increase proportionately to their age. Not only can this be lonely, but isolation comes with its own set of health risks for seniors.
The choice to move into assisted living doesn’t need to be driven purely by crisis-type scenarios. Instead, by moving into assisted living, your parents can safely re-establish a sense of community without any of the attendant efforts of also maintaining a home.
These opportunities for increased connectivity can be especially integral to the decisions of now-single parents to move into assisted living.
5. Decide How Often to Visit Your Parents in Assisted Living
Because at least part of the move from independent to assisted living involves integrating into a new social environment, you need to decide early on how often you visit your parent.
The choice to visit daily or by the week is entirely yours and depends on your parents’ personality. Experts often recommend visiting as often as possible to normalize your parents’ move into assisted living.
But for some people, frequent visits can be stressful. They feel pressured to adjust to the situation faster than they think possible or take the opportunity presented by the visit to vent their frustrations at their new assisted living quarters.
Whatever you decide, the key is to be consistent. You and your parents want to establish a routine in their new assisted living situation as quickly as possible. That will help them settle in as quickly and comfortably as possible.
6. Anticipate Setbacks with Assisted Living
Once your parents reside in assisted living, be aware that it takes time to build a routine and adjust to their new environment. And, as they adjust, anticipate setbacks.
It’s normal for your parents to want to leave assisted living or find fault with the food, the carers, and even the friends they made last week. While it can be difficult to witness, this is part of the adjustment process.
7. Limit New Things for Parents in Assisted Living
One tip to speed up the adjustment process after your parents have moved into assisted living is restricting the number of new possessions in their new home.
This may happen naturally since many parents that move to assisted living begin by downsizing. But surrounding your parents with familiar and favorite objects can go a long way to helping them feel at home in their new environment.
Remember, everything else is new; friends, food, and, especially, the support workers. There’s no need to exacerbate these things by adding complicated TV remotes or coffee makers to the equation.
8. Advocate for Your Parents
The other tip to keep in mind once you have successfully moved your parents into assisted living is that they will need an advocate. However thoroughly you researched, and however many tours you took, no place is perfect.
But because the assisted living environment still feels new and strange, your parents may find speaking up about problems they encounter daunting. Just as you should anticipate setbacks, also be prepared to speak up for them.
Listen carefully when your parents bring up problems, and if they seem easily combatted, and even if they don’t, take note. There may be something you can do that will make their new life in assisted living more comfortable as a result.
9. Have a Network to Rely On
That doesn’t mean that everything should or does rest on your shoulders. After all, the primary reason for seeking out the move to assisted living was to relieve you of some of the caregiving responsibility.
The staff at an assisted living home exists to help you as much as your parents, and it’s okay to rely on them. As you take note of your parents’ evolving concerns, keep an open discussion with the support staff.
That way, if a problem arises while you’re away or unable to combat it, there’s someone on hand alert to the situation and able to rectify it. It doesn’t have to be complicated, either; staff involvement can be as simple as accompanying a reluctant resident to dinner.
10. Establish Clear Boundaries With Your Parents
It’s also essential that as you integrate the caregiving support network of your parents’ new assisted living space into your life, you work to establish your boundaries.
Once your parents have moved into assisted living, the need for you to be perpetually available is markedly less. As you work to establish a new routine with your parents, take time to make it clear you can’t always be available anymore.
There are other claims on your life, including work and children. And part of the decision to move your parents into assisted living is to redress that balance.
11. Be Patient
The last tip for successfully moving your parents into assisted living is to be patient. The decision to move won’t happen overnight, and neither will your parents’ adjustment to assisted living.
Give them time, and give their friends and other connections time, too. Not everyone will come to visit right away, and while your parents may find this upsetting; Remember the experience is new for everyone.
The decision to move your parents into assisted living is neither easy nor made lightly. As you undertake the decision process remember to:
- Keep the conversation a discussion, not dictatorial
- Do Your Research
- Watch for teachable moments
Once your parents have moved, remember to:
- Limit new possessions
- Establish boundaries
- Rely on a support network
And above all else, be patient with your parents.
These and other tips should help facilitate your parents’ move into assisted living and ensure it’s as comfortable and enjoyable an experience as you could wish for.