Woman comforting elderly woman

Coping Strategies When an Elderly Parent Refuses Assisted Living

The aging process is a journey filled with unknowns and questions. No matter if you are moving into your senior years yourself, or if you are a caregiver for an aging loved one, this journey requires strength and support. Many of the big hurdles can be hard on every member of the family. One of the potentially most difficult conversations centers around when it may be time for a loved one to move into an assisted living community. What to do when your elderly parent refuses to move is an on-going cause of stress and concern for many, many caregivers. While this conversation will undoubtably be emotional, understanding the situation and planning ahead can ease the burden on everyone.

Why Many Seniors Refuse Assisted Living

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), most seniors prefer to age at home. The familiarity and security of a home environment allows seniors to feel safe while also following the daily schedule to which they are accustomed. However, physical and medical limitations may make remaining at home difficult. A 2012 AARP study found that two in 10 Americans, 70 years old and older, cannot live independently or complete daily tasks without help.

A growing need for care for our elderly loved ones or potential concerns of family members about being held liable for allowing an elderly parent to live alone are two factors that often bring families to the conversation about assisted living. Because many seniors prefer to remain in their home, these conversations can be difficult and emotional. Seniors often feel uncomfortable discussing assisted living because:

  • There is a fear of the unknown
  • Anxiety about change is common
  • Hesitance to give up independence is a top concern

How to Change the Conversation About Assisted Living

So, what do you do if your elderly parent refuses assisted living? During conversations when emotions are high, it is crucial to remain calm and keep the discussion moving forward. It is possible to have a productive conversation with a senior loved one about assisted living, even if your loved one is not welcoming of the discussion. Here are a few tips to help guide you:

Begin the conversation early. Before any issues arise, it is important to understand what your loved ones want for themselves as they age. Knowing what your loved one wants can help guide your decisions and shape your options later.

Continue the conversation in different ways. If a loved one shuts down one line of conversation, it does not mean that conversation is over. Many questions about large life changes can elicit emotional reactions, which can slow down productive discussion. Finding new ways to ask a question or make a point can help a loved one understand your concerns without feeling put on the spot.

Do not shut down anyone’s feelings. Aging is emotional, life changes are emotional. Allow your loved one to express concerns, share feelings, feel frustrated and even feel sad. Working through these feelings will create an opportunity for moving forward with a positive outlook. Ask questions about how your loved one feels and what concerns they have. Listen to those concerns and, when they are ready to hear it, discuss ways to overcome those concerns.

Explain the options. While moving your loved one into an assisted living community may be what is best in the long-term, explain that there are small measures that can be taken first.  Perhaps a weekly housekeeper or a grocery delivery service would help alleviate concerns in the short-term. Taking small steps can help ease the fear of giving up independence and provide peace of mind for both the senior and their family.

Personalize Your Approach and Options

It is important to remember that assisted living options are not one-size-fits-all. If your elderly parent refuses assisted living, remind them there are a variety of options for level of care, level of independence, on-site activities and community involvement that can fit any health needs or personal lifestyle.

When you are considering helping a loved one transition to an assisted living environment, take the time to research the communities in your area. Many assisted living communities have a dedicated web page or phone number for inquiries. For example, Charlton Place has gathered this critical information all in one place and made it easy for interested family members to review.

Want to Learn More About Assisted living?

If you still have questions regarding assisted living benefits and care, we would love to talk. Call us today at 334-290-6900 or click here and explore our community online.