It is very difficult to convince the elderly loved ones of the home to move from the comfort they've known for years into an assisted living situation. It is always better to start the conversation sooner than later, while your loved ones are still in good health. It is very important that they get used to the idea beforehand so that it becomes easier when the time comes. But what if you haven't discussed it nor made plans for a transition? If it is time for your loved ones to alter their living situation--here are some things you should do.
Elder’s safety is the most important thing and we need to keep that in mind. If you know that they cannot remain in their own home safely, don't let your emotions override what you know needs to be done. It is always better to step in at the right time instead of waiting for a broken hip, a car accident, a medicine over dose or a crisis call. Recognize that when you were a child, your parents would have done everything possible to ensure your safety. Now, as hard as it is, you have to be the "parent", and make the best decisions for them.
A multi-level facility offers additional services, preventing the turmoil of another movie if your loved ones' health declines. Many seniors start out with their own private apartment and progress through stages of assisted living and eventually to skilled nursing and dementia care, all within the same facility. They may be able to bathe, dress, and take their own medications now, but it’s a blessing to know that services can be added if needed. And many times the friends they have made along the way progress along with them, providing the comfort of familiar faces.
The best way to evaluate a facility is to talk with families who have a loved one living there. Drop in on the weekends during peak visiting hours and discreetly ask about the accommodations, service, activities, cleanliness, food (be sure to eat a meal there yourself), reliability, personnel, etc. If they had it to do again, would they move their loved one there? What do they wish they had known? Also, ask the administrators if there are any liens or lawsuits filed, and ask to review their licensing and certification reports. Also, check with your local Area Agency on Aging and their long-term care ombudsman's office. If the facility will not put in writing that there aren't any legal problems--keep looking!
Adult children are often filled with guilt for moving their parents, that is, until they see them flourishing in a new environment, making friends, and participating in activities they haven't enjoyed for years. Ask the activity director what/when activities are offered, such as: field trips, games, crafts, educational classes, singing, dancing, gardening, cooking, bingo, exercising, movies, interaction with children and animals, etc? Be sure to monitor the director and the frequency of these activities regularly.
Once you've selected the right place, ask the administrators to help convince your loved one to move, as they are very familiar with this problem and deal with it daily. Ask if someone can call your parents to try to develop a relationship over the phone. Perhaps he or she could drop by (while you just happen to be there) to invite your parents to a get-together. A few days later, casually drive you parents there, just to say hello to that person who was so kind to drop by. Seeing a familiar face is usually very helpful. Remember, any kind of change can be very scary for an elder. Take things slow, gradually reinforcing the idea of moving, with their safety your goal.
Another idea is to have the administrator ask for your loved one’s “help” with something. Could they, for example, help with the bingo, cooking or singing classes? Perhaps they can help prepare lunch for the seniors there. Telling your loved ones that they are "needed" and giving them a "job" will help them feel more comfortable about going there. They will make friends, which can then ease the transition to moving there. Also, ask their doctors to encourage the move, emphasizing safety.
/Realize that since the beginning of time, everyone who has ever been lucky enough to have their parents reach old age has experienced the pain of watching their once-competent loved ones decline. We all know it is a part of life, but there are no words that can prepare us for the sorrow. Reach out for help from family and friends, join a support group right away--and don't even think you can do it alone!