The decision to move an elderly parent into an assisted living facility can be an daunting and emotional experience. However, if the process is handled with care, both the parent and child will feel comfortable with the move as time progresses.
The process should begin with open communication before the parent shows any signs of needing professional care. Children should casually bring up the topic to determine what their parents have planned for their later years. Questions such as, “Which assisted living facility would you like to reside in when you cannot take care of yourself?” Or, “What are your plans for your older years?” If these issues are addressed early, parents may willingly do what they promised at the appropriate time.
However, there are times when a crisis occurs and the child may need to move the parent before any conversation has taken place. Such crisis may include constant falling or extreme withdrawal from loved ones. Parents may experience difficulty with cooking and grooming. Children may notice bruises or burns on their parents hands, arms or face that indicate a problem.
If children have to move their parent immediately, they must handle the topic with patience and care. They should be careful not to command their parent to move. Children can do this by simply expressing their concerns. Words such as, “I’m concerned you are going to hurt yourself badly, so I think we should make future plans.” is better than “For your own good, I’m moving you to a facility to be taken care of.” Parents are more likely to retaliate if they are introduced to the idea in a harsh manner.
Rather than move the parent abruptly, children should encourage a parent to visit a facility. Once visited, they should take advantage of some of the social programs available and have dinner in the dining area. Also, some places allow future tenants to stay a week or more to get a feel for the new environment. Parents will feel more involved in the process if they are allowed to express how they feel about their future home.
While visiting, children should pay close attention to what they see and experience. They should make sure other tenants are being helped with daily personal needs such as eating, bathing, and dressing. Also, they should check the policy on how staff members handle medication and who will be administering it. Also, children should checked to see who handles laundry and determine if it is done on a timely basis. Another important matter to check is the facility’s policy on handling emergencies and the location of the nearest hospital. Knowing this information before moving in will allow for a positive transition.