Getting older might be seen as a good thing because of having the benefit of life’s experiences. However, some people see fewer years ahead than behind and don’t have a positive outlook about the future. When you care about some loved ones who fall into one or other of these camps, it’s difficult to know how to help them.
Supporting loved ones when age has crept up on them is the right thing to do. That support can come in a variety of ways. Senior living communities are a possibility if they’re willing to leave their home and move into one. Alternatively, you could try initially helping them where you can and later suggesting a new community as a longer-term solution.
Here is how we’d suggest progressing through the different stages to eventually reach acceptance of moving to a senior living community.
First, See It from Their Perspective
Seeing things from their perspective is a good idea. It won’t necessarily be easy, but as the saying goes, “Try walking a mile in their shoes.”
A Perceived Loss of Control Creates Fear
Understand that they’re used to being the parent or a caring uncle in the relationship. Being told what to do isn’t going to sit right with them.
If they’re going to need to adjust to let others assist them in areas of life where they’re currently struggling, making that mental and emotional adjustment won’t happen immediately. It’s a process for them and usually one that they’ll go through reluctantly because it means relinquishing some control over their life.
Change Happens Slowly or All at Once
Most people don’t like change. A loss of control instills fear.
Allow them time to accept suggestions. But also realize that they may conclude at a certain point that they need to accept the help. They may then suddenly say, “Yes, okay” when they previously were adamantly against the idea.
The sudden about-face could seem inconsistent, but it’s not.
Support Them While They Consider the Idea of Senior Living
When the situation doesn’t yet seem urgent to them or they still feel they can mostly cope with life, then a senior living facility won’t interest them right away. Even if they were given a tour of the facility, if their mind is currently made up to the negative, a tour won’t likely change that.
Provide Support Where It’s Required
When you’re either living locally or can arrange to travel to see them more frequently, then do what you can.
This might mean mowing the lawn and doing yard work when you’re there. If they can cope otherwise but moving and getting down on all fours to tend to the plants is too much for them, do what’s required.
Even if you’re not green-fingered, read some articles, watch some YouTube videos or gardening TV shows, and get up to speed. Helping is great, being an expert is not required.
Look for Improvements to Living Arrangements
See what can be done to assist their current living circumstances until they agree to move.
This could mean relocating laundry machines to a higher level for easier access or changing the family room seating to make it easier to get up from. Reorganizing the kitchen could reduce the chance of accidents there. Also, non-slip mats, grab rails, and other bathroom additions can encourage them to not skip bathing for fear of injuring themselves.
Hire-in or Use App Services When You’re Unavailable
When you’re unable to be available often enough, see if there are services that can be hired in. With the ‘gig economy’ now, plenty of single task or local deliveries are available where they never existed before.
Day helpers to clean the home to catch up on cleaning that they’ve fallen behind on. Food delivery services from supermarkets allow them to order online and get it delivered. If they’re not comfortable ordering online but know what they regularly order, perhaps you can arrange for repeat orders and deliveries at times to suit them?
Are there items that have stopped working, are now causing inconvenience, and need repairing? Arrange for them to be collected for repair or have them replaced if the appliance is already ancient!
Use automation where possible to reduce the amount of hands-on work that’s required.
The most obvious of these is automatic bill paying of utility bills. This is especially useful if they keep forgetting to pay the bill and services are at risk of being disconnected.
Set up reminders for refills and replacements that need to happen every few weeks or months. Add them to your calendar to follow up and ensure they get done. Otherwise, they’ll likely drop the ball and this will cause extra problems that are avoidable.
Know When to Reintroduce Senior Living Again
When first speaking about senior living, put them on notice that the matter is tabled for discussion in the future. This is useful to remind them that this was the agreement.
Make a note of the increasing list of things they’re no longer able to do. You’ll need this to rebuff their suggestions that they’re still capable of managing their daily life. Part of this will be a natural defense mechanism, and another part might be denial.
Work to get them to see that a community with staff present to support their daily living can be beneficial. You cannot be there every day, but these people can. And they’re far better equipped to know how to support their needs than their son or daughter is.
Once you’ve got them open to the idea – where before they were closed to it – see about making a planned visit to a senior living Calabasas facility.
See if they can join in with some planned activities, meet some of the people living there, or otherwise participate. This will increase the likelihood that they’ll see that the facility can be good for them and make life more consistent. Plus, they will get the chance to meet new people and to socialize more.