Watching our loved ones age is never easy. We want them to remain strong, capable, and independent – and they want the same for themselves. They might feel frustrated when they can no longer move around the way they used to – when stairs are more strenuous to climb, meals are harder to cook, hygiene is more difficult to keep up with. We can’t always be there to help – we might not live in the area or just simply don’t have the ability. Not to mention, our parents and grandparents yearn for independence and could be resisting any help offered. But maybe the best way to be independent is to get a little bit of help.
Yes, that might sound like an oxymoron, but the reality is this: if a person has help with everyday tasks, they have more time to focus on things that matter to them – and they’re safer.
It’s important to remember that aging is a natural and inevitable process, and that as we watch our parents or grandparents get older, we need to embrace a new way of life that allows them to thrive – even if they need a bit more help than they used to. At some point, that might mean helping them transition from independent living to assisted living or a nursing home. It’s not always obvious when it’s time to make that transition – and in some cases, it might seem like an extreme choice to your parents, even if you know that it’s time.
Assisted living could be just what your parent or grandparent needs to thrive again – but it can be difficult to know when it’s time to make that transition or even have the conversation. If our parents are still relatively independent, but just need some extra help, they might be resistant to accepting it. We also might miss some subtle signs that it’s time to make the move.
There are some more obvious signs that independent living is no longer working. These tend to fall into a category known as ADL – or activities of daily living. If our loved ones can no longer take the stairs, have trouble transitioning in and out of bed, or need help with eating or using the restroom, assisted living or other types of long-term care such as home care may be necessary. The same is true if they have recently suffered a bad fall or been diagnosed with a debilitating disease like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. There are other signs, too, though that we can look out for – red flags that might not seem as immediate but should absolutely be considered.
Oftentimes, though, your loved ones might be resistant to the change – especially if they are not struggling with obvious daily tasks. They might feel that moving into assisted living is stripping them of any shred of independence they had left. It’s important to remember that moving into assisted living can actually help them to gain some independence back. According to healthcare writer Lori Johnston, “the truth is that, while moving is a big adjustment, assisted living can help extend a senior’s independence, improve their social life and provide assistance with activities of daily living.”
When we first bring up this topic with our parents, it’s important to be patient, gentle, and well informed. Make sure to express that this is not a move to take anything away from them, but rather to enrich their lives and help them thrive again. Phrasing is everything. Remember, we want our parents to feel good about this decision and not forced into it. If we use words such as “community living” instead of “assisted living” this might make a world of difference – because our parents won’t feel like they are losing something.