Talking to Mom About an Assisted Living Residence
Chuck Bongiovanni, MSW, MBA, CSA
Talking to Mom About Assisted Living
Very few seniors want to leave the homes where they may have been living for decades, but as their age advances, the necessity of doing so may increase until the issue can no longer be ignored. Household matriarchs may be extremely reluctant to leave the family home and all of its associated memories. However, when it is time to have that heartfelt talk with mom, a few words of advice can help to alleviate any difficulties.
Consider the Need
The first step in talking to mom about a possible move to an assisted living residence, is to consider the need for it. Make a list of the pros and cons associated with moving. If the advantages are overwhelming, then the talk cannot be avoided. However, it is also necessary to consider what type of facility is required. Large, apartment-type buildings may be ideal, but small, family-based facilities and nursing homes should also be considered.
Ease Into the Topic
Before initiating a deep discussion, it is helpful to nonchalantly bring up the idea a few times several months beforehand. This can take the form of a simple mention of other options after mom has experienced a difficult situation, but you will want to wait a day or two after an incident occurs.
Timing is Important
The best time to talk to mom about assisted living is when she is comfortable and her mind naturally takes her to some of the factors that are making her life sad, difficult or lonely. Gently bringing up the topic at such a time may be received as practical advice instead of as an attack.
The discussion on moving can be helped if you can gather some information on her friends who are already in assisted living. Mom will be more receptive about visiting a center where she will have one or more instant friends.
Other topics that may help in the discussion include a review of the safety features of assisted living and how much easier it is to upkeep the living space. Also, talk about the level of privacy in personal quarters and the social activities available in the public areas.
Finally, give mom some time to consider the information you have given her. If she is still reluctant after a few days, ask for help from friends and family members.
If the incidents prompting a discussion on assisted living are severe or if they occur frequently, a simple mention of moving should be upgraded to a suggestion about touring a facility. In non-emergency situations, you can take no for an answer the first few times.