Cognitive Impairments

A discussion about moving into assisted living with a loved one who has a cognitive impairment can be daunting. If talking and discussing hasn't worked, here's another idea.

Finding an "excuse" to move rather than the "real reason".  We also call these "loving lies".  
​It's important that all the people involved in your loved one's care are giving the same explanation, such as:

  1. Let's just do this for the winter months, that way we don't have to worry about you going to the mailbox in the middle of winter and/or that way you won't have to snow blow the driveway.(Often a person moves for the winter and decides to stay.)
  2. We have to have some work done on the furnace and you'll have to be out of the house for awhile.
  3. There's a problem with the roof and it won't be safe to stay here while they work on it.    
  4. We've bought you a mini vacation at a bed and breakfast! 

​Families have expressed concerns over "lying" to their parent, however, you're using the disease to keep them safe. At this stage, their well being is more important. Generally after they have been there awhile they become comfortable with the routine and the care and they want to stay. Again be sure that everyone in the family is giving your loved one the same explanation and that it's something believable for them. 


What If Mom or Dad Argues With Me or Still Refuses to Move? 

Remember - this is a process. Moving a loved one into any type of senior housing will be one of the most difficult things in your lifetime. You can’t expect everything to go smoothly when talking with them. Try not to argue. If you find yourself becoming angry, stop and try again another day. It’s always good to say, “Let’s just see what these places are like”. Remember though, please follow through with visiting or meeting with an agency to discuss the topic.They will be curious, and after visiting they’re often pleasantly surprised.​


There are times when cognitive impairments can prevent you from logically discussing a move with your loved one. They may be unable to make a decision. It then becomes the family’s decision. Your loved one may never by ready to move even when it’s absolutely necessary. The only thing you can do at this time is engage in some “tough love" by selecting a home for them, moving their things into the home and setting up their room. Then tell them you are going to take them out to dinner, which would be at the home you've selected. Have dinner with them, take them to their room and then leave; letting them know you'll be back tomorrow or the next day. You can also enlist the staff to redirect them by getting them involved in an activity of some sort.If your loved one refuses to get out of the car and is adamant, then take them home and try again on another day. 


If you have been given medical power of attorney -that includes being able to place them- by your loved one (prior to the cognitive impairment) then you have the ability to place them in a home. If they still argue this point then there are times that deeming your loved one incompetent is necessary. If it has come to this you'll have to have two doctors to state this and you'll have to petition the courts for guardianship. You can legally become their guardian or have a court appointed guardian. This should be the last resort unless they are at risk, or a risk to others.