How to Tell a Loved One They Need Assisted Living

December 6, 2019

Talking to parents or other loved ones about moving to assisted living is likely one of the most difficult conversations you will have. But if you notice increasing difficulty with their day-to-day tasks like bathing, eating and toileting, it’s time to consider moving to an assisted living community. We have five tips to help you discuss assisted living arrangements with a loved one who may be in need of additional care.

How to Tell a Loved One They Need Assisted Living

Easing the Way to Discussing Assisted Living Options

There are many types of senior housing facilities, but not all facilities provide the same level of care. To help with daily tasks or help ease your loved one’s transition into their twilight years, assisted living will be the most effective. Temporary assisted living can also be helpful in times of recovery from a stroke, broken bone or other health setbacks. Skilled nursing at these senior communities can provide medication management, memory care and other services when needed.

The first time you tell your loved one that they need assisted living may be one of the most challenging conversations you’ve ever had. Fortunately, there are several ways to prepare to have this discussion.

1. Research Assisted Living Options

It is essential to have information like the cost of assisted living and what facilities are available before talking to your loved one. They will feel reassured that you’ve done your homework and know the facts.

  • Finances: Your loved one may be concerned about the cost of assisted living, as it can be very expensive. Consider putting together a budget to show how they can cover the cost of assisted living arrangements. A well-planned budget can be reassuring that assisted living is a viable option.
  • Available facilities: Research facilities in your area and create a list with your top assisted living facilities. You could visit the facilities to gather brochures and information. However, don’t overwhelm your loved one with too much information at once. Focus on features that matter most to your loved one and your family. Priorities may be the staff’s credentials, amenities, recreational activities or the facility’s social calendar.
  • An optimal timeline: Think about when the move might take place and what will need to happen in the meantime. Consider your loved one’s personality to determine if it is better to plan well in advance for the move, or if waiting too long will create too much anxiety. Either way, allow for enough time for your loved one to make the transition to assisted living.

2. Mental and Emotional Considerations

Many older adults need assisted living because of complications from dementia. Other emotional and psychological factors may also come into play. These issues may make a conversation about the pros and cons of assisted living more difficult.

No matter what your loved one’s mental state, it is essential to bring them on board in the decision-making process as much as possible. If your parent has dementia or other cognitive or emotional concerns, it is still critical that they feel a part of the process. Mental decline often causes a person to be fearful and feel a loss of control. Having a say in where they live in their remaining years can help them feel more grounded and secure.

Many older people recognize a move to assisted living is a crucial turning point in their lives. They realize they will not be returning home, so they may resist this move. It may be a very emotional time for them and the rest of your family members. Acknowledging your loved one’s fears can be a healthy way to reassure them.

3. Get Help with the Assisted Living Conversation

Siblings or other people who care about your loved one can help you talk about assisted living options. Discuss the best approach to the subject with these individuals. You’ll want to be sure you are on the same page and have similar perspectives on assisted living. Each of you can plan to talk with your loved one separately and then come together for further discussion if needed.

4. Find the Right Time to Discuss Assisted Living

The first time you bring up assisted living most likely won’t be the last. You may want to start by mentioning assisted living in an offhand way before holding a serious family meeting. The gentle approach will feel more relaxed, and your loved one is probably less likely to be defensive. You could mention an excellent facility you’ve heard of in the area, or talk about how a friend recently moved into assisted living.

Avoid initiating these conversations during already-stressful events. Many people move into assisted living following the death of a spouse or a major health setback. Bringing up a significant life change at such a time can be overwhelming. Try to plant the seeds in advance so that they don’t feel blindsided.

5. Visit an Assisted Living Facility

Many older people have never seen a contemporary assisted living facility. They may have an image in their mind of spending most of their time alone in an impersonal nursing home. But many assisted living facilities are modern, upbeat communities offering caring staff, fun social activities and high-quality food. Taking your loved one to visit an assisted living facility is ideal so they can see this health care option for themselves.

If your loved one has a friend in a quality assisted living facility, consider setting up a visit. Otherwise, most facilities offer tours or allow visitors to participate in activities with residents like card night or bowling. Your loved one will get a feel for what life might be like in assisted living.

Concluding Thoughts on Recommending Assisted Living to Your Loved One

It can be difficult and emotional to talk to your loved one about moving to assisted living. Start by planting seeds early, but follow their lead concerning their senior care. You may see signs that it’s time for a move, but you can help them make the best decision for their care with gentleness and empathy.