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How to Get Your Parents into Assisted Living: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Introduction

AARP’s 2020 study shows that more than 50% of seniors never want to move from their homes. This is understandable because there’s a lot of hard work put in over the years to build a haven for themselves. But if your loved one needs additional support in their everyday lives, then an Assisted Living facility is probably the best option for them. 

In this article, we’ll discuss how to get your parents into Assisted Living, what if an elderly parent refuses to move, and how to move a parent with dementia to Assisted Living. 

Before packing up, you need to consider if it’s time for Senior Living.

How Do I Know if My Parents Need Assisted Living?

assisted living

Some signs are easier to detect than others. Maybe you noticed mom or dad often forgets to lock the door. Perhaps, they haven’t bathed for days, and you have to keep reminding them. Charting ADLs is a common way to measure the level of care needed. 

14 Signs your loved one needs an Assisted Living facility:

  1. Showing aggressive behaviors
  2. The senior can’t perform ADLs any longer – grooming, feeding, paying bills, etc.
  3. Poor weight management
  4. They isolate themselves, which is a significant cause of depression
  5. They need reminders to take medication
  6. Problems speaking or forgetting what words to use
  7. Mom or dad is not interested in their usual hobbies
  8. Repeating questions or stories
  9. They lose mobility or fall often
  10. Neglecting household chores and maintenance
  11. A Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis
  12. Addiction and developing bad habits. E.g., the over-consumption of alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and prescription drug abuse.
  13. Getting lost or becoming disorientated
  14. Not able to plan, organize, or concentrate

What Can You Do if Your Elderly Parent Refuses Assisted Living?

assisted living

Moving to Assisted Living is stressful, and parents can resist the change by refusing to move. There are ways for you to change their minds through speaking about the great reasons to move to Assisted Living and the right approach. 

4 Ways to get the elder to move to an Assisted Living facility:

Change things up

If what you’re doing is not working, don’t give the same speech over and over. Give your loved one some of the control and explore options. Express your love and highlight the benefits of an Assisted Living facility. 

Express your feelings

A good relationship with a senior often means they care about your feelings. Rather than restating that they’re sick, tell them how their safety affects your peace of mind. Avoid telling them how selfish they are and that they’re a burden to you. 

Get help from others

If you can’t get through to your loved one, consider getting someone else to speak to them. Make sure the person helping you talk about the benefits of an Assisted Living facility. 

You could ask for help from:

  • A community leader or someone you both look up to
  • A doctor to highlight the dangers of living on their own. 
  • Another family member who you both trust and have a good relationship with

Get legal help

If your elderly parent refuses Assisted Living, but in danger, the last step is to get legal help. An elder care lawyer can help you seek guardianship or refer you to a social worker that can assist. 

4 Ways to get an elder to move to Assisted Living: Change things up, express your feelings, get help from others, or get legal help

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Can You Force Your Parents into Assisted Living?

assisted living

The only way to force your parents into an Assisted Living facility is by using the legal system. You’d have to apply for guardianship or conservatorship. A judge can find a senior incapable of making decisions or taking care of themselves. 

1) How does Conservatorship work?

Judges will do everything they can not to restrict any elder’s rights if there isn’t a need. This often happens even if some of the decisions made are not to most people’s liking. 

So, guardianship is only granted to an elder’s child if the aged person is found incompetent. If found competent, a senior can still make decisions, even if it puts them at risk. 

What happens if your mom or dad is mentally impaired? If there are moments of clearness and the elder says they want to stay at home, the judge will rule in favor of home care. A court appoints a guardian who must put the necessary measures in place to care for the elder at home. 

2) What’s the process of getting guardianship?

First off, this is costly and takes time. On top of that, you might not even win the case. Besides judges and lawyers, psychologists, and Adult Protective Services are involved. 

The court assigns an attorney to represent your loved one, and you’re responsible for paying the filing fee and all costs to bring the suit. These include neurological, medical, and psychological evaluations to determine if your mom or dad is incompetent to make decisions. 

Plus, even if you get guardianship, the court will place some restrictions over your ward. 

10 Steps on How to Get Parents into Assisted Living

assisted living

You might be tempted to book your loved one into Assisted Living once you notice the signs. Transitioning to an ALF is not always easy because research shows seniors want to “age in place.” 

This 10-step guide takes you through the process of transitioning seniors from their comfort zone to a new home. 

1) Start the conversation

Before you approach your parents, do some research into suitable Assisted Living facilities. It’s critical that you only plant the seed and not come across as you’ve already made the decision, and off they go. 

Don’t rush them into deciding. Instead, remind your mom or dad about moving to an ALF if a close call or accident happened. You could even take them to an ALF so that they can get a feel for what it’s like. 

Mention some of these benefits when bringing up the subject:

  • The need for housekeeping or cooking
  • Socializing
  • Safety & security
  • Peace of mind

2) Show empathy

Moving to an Assisted Living facility can be a difficult move for your parents. Your loved one has been living independently for most of their lives. Show empathy to understand this life-changing event. 

Reassure your parents how valuable they are and talk about the things that will still be the same. 

3) Keep them involved in the process

Involve your parents as much as possible in the research, tours, and decision-making process. They could disengage themselves from the process but keep pulling them in. It’s important to reassure them about how much you care about them. 

Where possible, allow them to take the lead relating to finances. 

4) Help them with downsizing

Moving on its own is stressful, but having to store away items and deciding which to keep can be heartbreaking. 

Plan the process to decide what they’d like to hold on to. Allow time to reminisce and don’t downplay the importance it holds for them

5) Moving in

moving homes

Even if your parents can’t be physically involved in the move, you can get them to take part. Help them set up their new apartment and remind them how often you’ll still be in their life. 

Make the apartment homely by decorating as this smoothens the transition. Let the senior decide where items must go. Resist the urge to buy new furniture, making them feel right at home sooner. 

6) Expect a re-adjustment period

Check in with the resident activities staff and let them know what your mom or dad loves doing. It often feels lonely for the first few weeks. Find out if there is a mentor who can show the older adult around. 

Take the time to sit with them at dinner or take a class together to help them feel more comfortable. 

7) Stay in touch

Visit regularly (especially the first few weeks) to help with the transition. You might hear a lot of negative things, but it’s critical to validate their feelings

Listen to what they have to say and reassure them that you love them and will still be there for them no matter what. Encourage them to get involved with other residents, but don’t be too pushy. 

Also, if you can’t be there for your mom or dad, ask relatives to take turns in visiting. 

8) Stay in touch with staff

Especially during the first weeks, check-in with the staff at the facility. To keep seniors feeling like they have control over their life, keep them in the loop about changes. 

9) Don’t be too involved

Your loved one needs time to adjust to their new surroundings on their own. Don’t check on them every day as this delays getting used to their new surroundings and people around them. 

Because an older person equates living in an ALF to losing independence, giving them space speeds up the transition.

10) Show support but expect mishaps

While it may seem that your loved one has settled in, there could also come a time when it looks like things have regressed. Acknowledge elders when they’re anxious or complain about their new home. Try not to minimize their feelings and remind them that you’re still there for them. Speak to staff to help make things easier for your beloved. 

Encourage them to push forward by:

  • Participating in their favorite activities
  • Even if they make mistakes, remind them it’s ok
  • Allow them to make choices
  • Provide the care that they want

How to Move a Parent with Dementia to Assisted Living

senior care

While you’d typically follow our 10-step guide to transitioning the elderly to Assisted Living, dementia patients need even more effort. 

4 tips for moving a parent with dementia to an Assisted Living Facility

  1. Choose a community that specializes in Memory care
  2. Try to visit the ALF a day before moving
  3. Schedule the move for their “best time of the day” – usually late mornings and early afternoons
  4. Use counseling services or transition programs to help with the family and the elder

Top 3 Points

1. Find out if your parents need Assisted Living by identifying the signs.

2. If your parents refuse to move to Assisted Living, don’t force them. Instead try to convince them by changing things up, sharing your feelings with them, asking for help from others, or even by getting legal help.

3. Be as supportive as you can throughout the entire process.

Conclusion

While it’s not easy when an elderly parent refuses Assisted Living. Knowing how to get parents into Assisted Living starts with noticing the signs and having the right approach. While it’s hard to move most seniors from their homes into an ALF, people with dementia need extra effort. Follow our 10-step guide plus the 4 extra tips to know how to move a parent with dementia to Assisted Living. 

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