We all had some awkward conversations with our parents when we were growing up. Now that we’re older, we aren’t just thinking back on those conversations when they come back up with our own kids. We realize our parents are getting older, and it’s time for hard conversations again, this time about difficult topics like the move to an assisted living facility. No two conversations will be alike, but sixty years serving Cedar Valley seniors’ needs has taught NewAldaya Lifescapes a thing or two about navigating them with grace.
Know Your Options Ahead of Time
If you’re going to discuss a move to an assisted living home, know your (and your loved one’s) options in advance. That means not only knowing the types of senior living facilities, or the amenities available at a campus like NewAldaya Lifescapes; it’s being able to explain what your loved one can expect, the kind and quality of care they’ll receive, and that they won’t be alone through the process. Your loved one will have questions (not all of them explicitly asked), and if you come prepared with answers, things can move in a more positive and productive direction.
Understand the Situation
When you first broach the subject of assisted living, the conversation is likely to go one of two ways. If you’re lucky, your loved one may have noticed that their current living situation is posing difficulties for them that they’re having a hard time navigating, and the thought of an assisted living home may already have crossed their mind.
But that isn’t always how the conversation unfolds. For many seniors, living alone represents a sense of freedom and normalcy that they’re hesitant to give up. If you can present reasons for the move, such as the physical or cognitive issues you’ve noticed that are cause for concern, it’s easier to couch this in terms of how you’re trying to help them.
Understand, and Honor, the Emotions that Arise
This is a time of uncertainty for everyone involved. A senior may worry about leaving behind a home that’s become an intimate part of their security, memories, and identity. It’s a difficult time for family as well; you have memories there, too, and may also have a persistent guilt that this may not be the right decision. Be honest with one another about what you’re feeling, and acknowledge in advance that this is the first step in a longer process rather than a one-time event. Just as importantly, affirm that you will always be there to listen.
Prepare for the Transition
Moving into an assisted living facility takes preparation, and also tends to involve a measure of downsizing. Talk about this, too; what you see as a collection of random stuff is to them a connection to their past and their identity. So find things that are especially resonant and important to them, and reassure them that those items will make the move to their new home, providing a much-needed sense of continuity. At the same time, make sure there are loved ones present on move-in day and bring a housewarming gift; it can be a subtle reminder that their life still stretches out before them, with plenty more opportunities to build new memories and friendships.
Letting a loved one know that you’ll be visiting on a regular basis serves two purposes. On the one hand, you’re reminding them that they’re loved and giving them a sense of continuity. On the other, it also gives you a window into the quality of their care. At NewAldaya Lifescapes, we encourage family to stay up to date on their loved ones’ care plans, to monitor their progress through any applicable treatments, and to have the opportunity to raise any concerns they may have. Your friend or family member will appreciate having another advocate in their corner in addition to their caregivers.
Reach Out for Help
As you’ve likely gathered, the conversation never quite ends. You’ll address one challenge, or solve one problem, only to be confronted by another. But we encourage you to remember that you’re not alone at any step in this process. We have experience guiding families through the good and bad times alike, and we’ll help you to do the same. We would also remind you to reach out to other sources of help, whether it’s your faith community, a support group, or any other network to which you belong. It’s axiomatic that it takes a village to raise a child, but the same community has value at all stages of life. So reach out to NewAldaya Lifescapes for help navigating these and other eldercare challenges