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'll be important to think about how they listen and communicate. Below are a few examples. Be aware, you're not trying to talk them into moving or selling their house. All you're doing is setting an appointment to become educated on the options, cost and funding. Remember, most likely you'll 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 have a say in choosing a place. You know you need more help. Let’s talk with someone so we make an educated decision.” (Again, not talking him into moving, just becoming educated. 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, lunch clubs, Euchre nights and lots of people. Remember we talked about how lonely you’ve been lately and we just can't be here enough. You've admitted to needing more help. Let's go visit an assisted living place and maybe have lunch. That way we can check the place out. We want you to feel safe but have some fun! You deserve more, so let's talk to someone about it."
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 let’s get some information and visit a few places. Then we 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 visit and have dinners together, but we’re concerned you need more help than we can give you. We know you don’t want to be a burden to anyone, so you’re not telling us everything. Your neighbors have noticed that you don’t come out of the house as much and they’re worried about you too. We'd like to talk with you about assisted living, where there are people to help you anytime you need it. We'll still have dinners together and will visit, but we won't be worried about you all the time."
We've Had the Talk, Now What?
Make an appointment within the week, if possible, to speak with someone about the different types of housing in your area. If your loved one doesn't want to go with you, keep the appointment anyway. You’ll need the support to get through this difficult time. Also, your loved one will see you're serious and not backing down. There are times the family would like to have information first, before they talk to their loved one. That’s 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.