The ironic thing about senior living communities is that no one looks forward to moving in, but many people who live there wish they had moved in sooner! As Patricia Grace, Senior Care Examiner, writes in her article about this subject, “Although making the decision to move a loved one can be very emotional and difficult, once it has been accomplished it can lead to an improved quality of life for everyone involved.”
Understanding your options
Most people who are considering a retirement community are looking for (1) freedom from the chores associated with owning a home, and/or (2) increased social interaction. If your parents are at this stage, their decision is probably not need-driven, but preference-driven. They may ask for your input, but they will most likely make the final decision themselves.
When Assisted Living is under consideration, it’s usually because there is a need for more help — and a desire to avoid a fall or other medical incident. Usually when Assisted Living becomes necessary, the adult children are more involved in the decision-making process. If you’ve started noticing that your parents are more forgetful, more unsteady on their feet, or more withdrawn, it may be time to suggest a series of “field trips” to some Assisted Living communities in your area. Many will offer a free lunch when you tour, so you can experience the dining options available at that location.
Sensitively conducting research
If your parents are resistant to the idea of even researching possible communities, you might begin by participating together in an event hosted by the community. By getting on a community’s mailing list, you can be notified of upcoming events, and you can casually invite your parents to attend with you. While at the event, you might find opportunities to tour the campus or ask questions of the staff in a way that doesn’t offend your parents or make them suspicious!
Your parents probably know that you only want what’s best for them. If you explain your worries about their safety, and remind them that medical care after a crisis is more expensive than preventive care now, they may be willing to consider a move.
Take your time, but start your search as soon as possible. You want to have your plan in place before you need it.
Enjoying the process together
And try to think of the process as a project you’re working on with your parents, a journey you’re sharing together. By participating with them (instead of taking over for them), you’ll learn things about each other and enjoy the experience more.