We all treasure our independence, and we largely oppose the idea of giving up our sense of freedom or being in unfamiliar surroundings. These facts remain true for us even as seniors. When it comes to moving into senior living, a large part of the opposition stems from the broad misconception that senior living communities of today are comparable to the gloomy ‘nursing home’ settings portrayed in popular media from time to time. In other cases, the senior is fully aware of the comfortable, modernized environment of today’s senior living communities, but they would still prefer to remain in the familiar place they’ve called home for many years. As a result, it is not uncommon for family members to encounter considerable protest from their senior when discussing potential placement in an assisted living or memory care community. At times, such resistance requires a great deal of patience and finesse on the part of the family members, which typically includes proposing the idea of senior care in a reassuring way.
While we would never indorse being deceitful or dishonestly omissive with a loved one of any age, we do understand that, in some cases, it will take a certain degree of persuasion for your senior to accept that they need care in an assisted living or memory care community. As such, based on your situation, here are eight possible arguments you can present to your loved one to convince them that senior living care is the best option:
1. The primary argument that appears to have the most success is "Please take on this difficult change for us. We’re just not able to provide you the proper care that you need and deserve, but we can rest easy knowing you’re in a community that will care for you the right way." Most seniors want to live independently even when it’s not ideal, striving to preserve the autonomy they’ve established for as long as possible. However, taking care of their family generally remains a top priority, so, by appealing to their protective, nurturing nature, they will realize that this move is equally beneficial to the well-being of their family, which is an effective strategy most of the time.
2. The second approach is to provide the situation a temporary context, e.g., "Give this place a try for 90 days and, if you’re unhappy with this community at that time, we can explore other options." It's very likely that they will settle into the community, establish friendships, and feel comfortable in their new home over the course of a few months. There is also a chance that your senior will forget about the 90-day deadline all together.
3. The third method involves tapping into their desire for personal engagement and social interaction, which are needs we all have. Explain to your senior that "You will have a more fulfilling life living with people you can connect with on a regular basis." Most seniors experience a steady decrease in their social network as they age, so you can propose senior living as a chance for them to reestablish their social circle.
4. Sometimes a pragmatic approach is the best option, e.g., "Be honest, how independent are you right now living at home? You primarily stay in one room of the house most of the day, you have very limited mobility, you cannot safely drive, and you consistently require assistance. An [assisted living or memory care] community is exactly what you need at this point in your life.” Alternatively, you can express to them that “You’ve worked hard your entire life, so you deserve to retire in a safe, relaxing environment. You can no longer live at home, so moving into this [assisted living or memory care] community is your opportunity to start that next chapter you’ve worked hard for.” In certain cases, a straightforward perspective can work surprisingly well.
5. Another strategy is to calm their fears with direct assurances, such as explaining that "This [assisted living or memory care] community is not a ‘hospital-like’ environment where you are forced to sit around all day. This community provides a variety of daily activities, there are exercise programs and social groups, and they prepare delicious meals and serve them in a nice communal dining room. You can make new friends and be as active as you want to.” Knowing what to expect can be very encouraging for your loved one and greatly reduce their anxiety about the move.
6. In cases where homecare is not a practical choice due to the cost involved or the care limitations, you can honestly tell your loved one that "You are simply not safe at home any longer. We've attempted homecare, but, unfortunately, our ability to continue with this care option has reached its endpoint because the [cost or care] is not right for you."
7. You can also try a more ego-boosting approach by highlighting all the bells and whistles of the community, e.g., "We have picked a beautiful, first-class [assisted living or memory care] community in the area with all the modern services and amenities. It is awesome that you can afford such a great place to live! Congratulations! This is cause for celebration!” You might get them excited about senior living by appealing to their self-image.
8. The last strategy, but certainly not least, is to use this senior living transition as a way to empower them with a renewed purpose. Your senior is in their golden years, and they have overcome all the struggles that life has thrown at them to this point. Yet, without a job to focus on and with fewer friends and family around to keep them engaged, their reason for getting out of bed in the morning may not be as strong as it once was, but you can reenergize your loved one by celebrating the new lease on life that senior living will grant them. For example, “This [assisted living or memory care] community will not only improve your quality of life but also help you extend your life by providing the care you need, allowing you more time with us and a chance to discover more about yourself and your interests.”