Talking with your loved one about their need to downsize or for assisted living, will be one of the most difficult conversations in your lifetime. Please don't expect them to say yes the first time around. Each person is unique and when talking with them, it will be important to think about how they listen and communicate. Below are a few examples. Be aware, you are not trying to talk them into moving or selling their house. All you are doing is setting an appointment to become educated on the options, cost and funding. Remember, most likely you will be having this conversation again. (Click on the button below for explanations on speaking with someone who is cognitively impaired.)
1. Is your loved one direct and to the point or strong minded? (The following is what you may say to your loved one.) “Dad, the doctors have said you can no longer live alone. We know you don’t want to move, but it’s no longer an option. If we do this now, you'll be able to have a say about what you like. Let’s talk with someone so we can start gathering information.” (Again, not talking him into moving, just gathering information. The process will continue once he agrees to talk with someone.)
2. Is your loved one fun loving, social or the life of the party? (or used to be) ”Mom, we heard about this place the other day that has bingo, and Euchre nights. Remember we talked about how lonely you’ve been and you're tired of eating alone. You know we can't always be here. This place has people your own age. Let's go visit a couple of assisted living places, maybe have lunch. That way we can check the places out. We can't stand how lonely you've been! You deserve more than this. "
3. Your loved one doesn't like change. They need quite a bit of information to make a decision . “Grandma, the doctor told me that he's concerned about you living alone. He said you've been falling and not eating very well and they mentioned assisted living. I know someone we can talk with, to get information. We're not going to make any decisions right now, but together we'll talk with someone and maybe even visit a few places. Then you and I can sit and discuss it."
4. Is your loved one hesitant to express their desires because they don't want to be a burden? “Uncle Tom, we love coming over here to have dinners together, but we’re concerned you need more help than just dinner. We know you don’t want to be a burden to anyone, so you’re not telling us everything. Your neighbors noticed you're having a harder time getting around and they're worried about you too. I think we should talk with someone about assisted living. You know, where you can have your own room but someone available to help you anytime you need it. We'll still visit and have dinners together, but won't be worried about you all the time."
We've Had the Talk, Now What?
Make an appointment within the week, to speak with someone about the different types of housing in your area. If your loved one does not want to go with you, keep the appointment anyway. You will need the support to get through this difficult time. Also, your loved one will see you are serious and not backing down. There are times the family would like to have information first, before they talk to their loved one. That is not a problem, and necessary at times.
An individual usually moves within one to two weeks of visiting the different homes. This seems impulsive, however, there are reasons for this. If a person has any short term memory loss, they may not remember visiting or even talking about moving. Each time a move is talked about there is anxiety for your loved one. Also, if a room or apartment you like is available, you may have to take it right away or risk losing it. Waiting too long to move after visiting the homes may give your loved one the idea that you're not serious about this and will make things that much more difficult down the road.
It’s very important to stay positive, reassuring and committed about the move. Acceptance happens at different times for each person. We all hope for a quick acceptance. Be patient – it will happen.