It can be difficult when you have to deal with an elderly parent or loved one who needs some type of assisted or senior living, especially when that loved one is resisting care. What should you do if they are resisting your help or the idea of help from professionals? Here are a few tactics you can use to approach the issue without coming across as being insistent or demanding.
1. Decide on a Conversation Starter
Your entire family should select the person who would be the best person to talk to your loved one about the subject of assisted living. Closeness and understanding of the full situation of the loved one is a plus.
2. Role Playing
Have your entire family brainstorm any possible objections your loved one might present. Then, have everyone take turns role playing with the conversation starter so that person is well-versed in answering any objections and concerns your loved one might have.
3. Present a Scenario
What we mean by this is to start the conversation with a story about another person. For example, state that you have a friend whose mother kept falling (or any other example you want to use) and having to go to the hospital every few weeks. Then say something along the lines: If her mother ends up in the hospital again, it would be reported to the state as neglect and could land them in some legal trouble.
This will help the loved one see any comparisons there might be. And generally, your loved one won’t want to see you in any type of trouble because of them. Additionally, they probably already know deep down that they are at some point going to have to accept what you are about to say when it comes to consenting to some type of assistance.
4. Slow and Steady
Unless your loved ones are dealing with a health emergency and a nursing home is your only option, start by introducing the need for assisted living slowly. If you are presenting this option prior to the need, then you can accompany the conversation with the different options to determine which one your loved one would prefer. You can also provide brochures and other materials with an offer to go and look at a few so that you know what your loved one prefers when the time comes.
You need to emphasize to your loved one that “when the time comes” knowing their options and selecting their preferred arrangement will help them maintain their self-sufficiency so they can continue living independently longer.
5. Trial Period
If your loved one is still displaying some resistance to care, sometimes it’s easier to present this option as a trial period. Tell your loved one that nothing is set in stone and this is just a trial period so they can determine what they like and don’t like about any given option.
6. Keep Them Engaged
Do your best to guide this whole endeavor as something your loved one decided and has control over, even if they don’t. It’s important that your loved one feels as if they are the one who is dictating the terms of their daily life. Of course, that’s not always possible.
7. Use Questions
Try using questions to move the conversation forward. For example, you can ask your loved one what their goals are regarding their medical care and their living situation. What this does is put the ball in their court so you aren’t the one driving the subject, they are. They are simply answering your questions which will then make it easier for you to continue on with the conversation using their answers while inserting the scenarios you’d like to see happen.
The Bottom Line
Making decisions about caring for the elderly can be uncomfortable, but they don’t have to be as difficult as you might think. Do as much research as possible for how to address this issue. Then have your family help the conversation starter do as much role playing as possible to get them ready for the talk. And always remember to talk with your loved one’s doctor first so you fully understand what they are and are not capable of now and going forward.