Health-Related Signs Your Parent May Be Ready for a Retirement Home
- Increasingly Frequent Falls - Occasional falls happen. However, if your parent has been falling more, it is an important clue they may be at risk living alone. Our older family members are much more in danger of permanent disability or death from a simple fall. This risk increases with each additional fall. Parents who aren’t ready for an assisted living home should at least be given a medical alert device (bracelet, necklace, etc).
- Slowing Immune System - If your mother or father is getting sick more often and staying sick for longer, you might want to start having a conversation about assisted living. Elderly immune systems just don’t recover the same way they used to. Living in a retirement home can provide them with the safety and care they’ll need to not be constantly exposed to health hazards.
- Decreasing Self Care - The word self care gets tossed around a lot, but it actually encompasses a wide variety of daily activities. In this context, decreasing self care would involve failing to feed themselves, difficulty or a complete stop in bathing, or even keeping their house neat and tidy. Many of those items are considered “Activities of Daily Life,” or ADLs, and are part of how a retirement home will create a care plan and monitor your parent’s status.
Emotional Health/Non-Physical Signs Your Parent May Be Ready for a Retirement Home
- Not Consistently Taking Prescribed Medication - If your loved one has any chronic medical problems, they’ve likely been prescribed medication to help manage them. With the majority of these medications, taking them consistently is essential to managing their health. Check in regularly to see if they’re picking them up and taking them as prescribed. If they’re not, see if you can figure out why. Some seniors struggle financially, which can be helped by changing insurance coverage. However, if the issue is remembering to take them, it may be time for assisted living.
- Lack of Community - Although many people don’t take community into consideration when discussing moving their parent into a retirement home, it is just as important a factor. A supportive community with consistent social interaction adds enormously to the health and welfare of your loved one. The lack of one can signify deeper issues with mental health. A good community can also provide a type of checks and balances, as they often see issues that loved ones close to the situation can or will not.
- Frequently Getting Lost/Changes in Mental Status - If you’re noticing that your parent is wandering out of the house, or going somewhere only to forget where they are and why they are there, it’s likely time to act. This can often be one of the first signs that they may be developing dementia. Other forms of dementia or declining mental health are seniors who are very quick to anger, cry, or frighten (even in normal circumstances).
So, How Can I Actually Convince My Parent to Make The Move?
Now that you’re done taking a close look at both the physical and mental health aspects of your parent’s life, it’s time to move on to starting the conversation. One of the most important things to remember is not to forget to involve them. This issue doesn’t have to start out as a big conversation. In fact, with the majority of seniors, it is actually better to just briefly plant the seed and move on instead of totally blindsiding them with it. Mention it a few times offhandedly before moving on to the next step, to get your parent used to the idea and more open to the conversation when it happens.
Once you’ve gathered all of your evidence, planted a few seeds, and really stopped to really think about your mother or father’s health, it’s time for that sit-down. If it can be arranged, try to involve their healthcare provider as well. Speak from the heart, and give them plenty of time to speak as well. They may be sad, confused, angry, hurt… their feelings are valid and they deserve space to be truly heard. Make sure that they know how much you love and care about them, and that you are only wanting to make sure they are as safe and happy as possible.
Be prepared for outbursts, or an abrupt end to the conversation, and don’t take that personally. It may take some time, and that’s ok (as long as it’s not an emergency situation). Some seniors just need space to think and process.
Once they are ready to talk and listen, be kind. This is a huge and scary change for your parent, and compassion is key.
What’s the Next Step?
To relieve some of the uncertainty, try to take your loved one on tours of the local retirement homes. This gives them a sense of control over the situation. Many facilities will let seniors sit in on some of the activities, which allows them to meet people before having to move in. Give your parent time to weigh their options and, if at all possible, let them have the ultimate say on where and when they go. This part of the process may take time but, in the end, it empowers your mother or father and will make the transition go much more smoothly.
How To Proceed If Your Parent Absolutely Won’t Cooperate
If you’ve tried talking to your parent multiple times but have been completely shut down, you may find yourself in a complicated situation. You’ll need to make some hard decisions around their actual safety, and determine whether it is an emergency situation.
In an absolute worst-case scenario, you may need to go to court to gain guardianship over your parent. This should be the very last way to get your loved one to move, as it is difficult, lengthy, expensive, and ends up creating a lot of resentment. You won’t be able to “force” them to move with just a power of attorney form. However, in some cases, this may be your only option if your mother or father is a real risk to themselves and you’ve exhausted all of the other options.
Convincing a parent to make the huge move from a private residence to a retirement home can be full of difficult conversations and emotional pitfalls. However, by doing your research and knowing how and when to talk to them, you can make a hard conversation a little easier. No matter what you both decide in the end, if you’re considering the move simply out of love and care for them, you’re making the right decision.