How To Prepare An Aging Parent For Assisted Living

There comes a time in many people's lives when they must deal with an aging parent. And making decisions about their care during their golden years can be challenging. If you're considering moving them into a nursing home, you may need to know where to start and what to avoid. Here are five steps that will ease your burden and simplify matters, from planning all the way to moving day.

Gather Decision Makers Privately

According to Dr. Mary Kelly Blakeslee, retired psychologist, if you have siblings, aunts and uncles, or even cousins that will be party to helping with the transition, now would be a good time to gather and get their input on how to broach the subject with your parent.

For instance, you may think that Uncle Henry is the best person to talk with Mom or Dad about the idea. But he may come forward and admit there's been a growing tension between them. On the other hand, that same uncle may know a clergy member who can offer guidance on the subject. Ask family members how they will be able to help, from assisting with packing and moving all the way to agreeing to take over caring for your parent's pet.

Avoid Using "Force"

Stella Henry, R.N., has written a book on the topic of caring for the elderly. She recommends that when you do ultimately approach the topic with Mom or Dad, avoid telling them they have no choice in the matter and that they have to move. While statements like this might make you feel like you're "putting your foot down" on the matter, it will probably result in making your parent feel as though they've lost power and control as well as their decision-making abilities, which can result in even more resistance to the idea of living in a nursing home.

Henry says that making statements like "I'm worried about you" or "I hate to see you going through this" is more likely to make them feel as though you're on their side. You want them to feel like you are for them, not against them, which will make the transition smoother. Even Dr. Barry Jacobs, who has counseled numerous children on transitioning parents into nursing homes, claims that most people are more willing to make major lifestyle changes if it's their choice.

Use Concrete Examples Regarding Your Concerns

Most children are not going to move their parent into a nursing home simply because they are getting older. Often, there have been incidents, sometimes recurring, that have led you to become concerned about their safety at home. Not only that, according to Henry, but parents can remain quite protective of their frailties or illnesses, doing everything in their power to hide these things because they don't want to scare their children. As a result, you want to bring up concrete, real examples of why you're worried about them remaining at home.

For example, maybe you've noticed the door has been unlocked the last few times you've visited, the oven has been left on, or maybe the dog's water bowl was bone dry. Voice your concerns and help your parent recognize that these are serious issues that warrant attention.

Visit Nursing Homes Together

When possible, children should collect a list of possible nursing homes ahead of time. That way, when a parent is agreeable, you can schedule times to visit those homes together. This can help diminish fear as well as make the home a familiar place for your parent. It will empower them by giving them choices.

Also, many facilities will allow potential residents to live there for short periods of time before making a commitment to something more permanent. In the end, this can ease the worries of both parent and child and help your parent decide which home is right for them.

Learn About Activities Offered

No one knows your parent better than you, right? Make a list of their hobbies and favorite activities. Then find out which of these are offered at the nursing homes you visit. And don't expect them all to be the stereotypical activities you're used to. Many assisted living centers offer fun and unique experiences for their residents. These include ballroom dancing, comedy shows, field trips to sporting events and museums, exercise programs like yoga and tai chi, karaoke night, and virtual sports on gaming devices like a Wii or Xbox.

Find out what the nursing homes in the area offer, and Mom or Dad just might beg you to move them ASAP. Click for more information on assisted living.

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