Pushing for a move to senior housing isn’t a good idea

iStock_000017844197Small

If anyone should win an award for being too pushy, it’s probably me.  I can’t seem to take “no” for an answer, and I don’t mind throwing all of my powers of logic and persuasion into the argument to help make it harder for the other person to deny my position.  But, when it comes to senior housing, trying to convince someone who doesn’t want to move is a bad idea.  Here’s why:

  1. Their stubbornness isn’t based on logic.  Well, at least not the type of logic that you’re probably employing.  The problem with arguing about a person’s safety and comfort is that they don’t view the decision in those terms.  A large number of seniors view the move to assisted living or a nursing home as an admission of weakness, or worse, that the end is near.  Giving up one’s home and autonomy isn’t something that they want to do because it implies that they’ve lost relevance. So, any arguments you make, no matter how persuasive, will likely fall on deaf ears.
  2. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The more you push, the more they’ll push, the more they’ll hate you.  Your best bet is to help them discover senior housing on their own.
  3. Do you really want to be “that” person? There is a fine line between being a crusading child who cares about a loved one and being a crusading child trying to push through his/her own agenda.  While you may see yourself as the savior in the situation, you might also be turning people off with your tactics.

If you feel that there are safety concerns associated with your loved one staying home alone, then you have some options:

  1. Begin documenting health and behavioral problems. The more data that you can bring to the table, the better prepared you’ll be for future discussions.  Having a demonstrated pattern of behavior or health problems can help convince otherwise reticent family members that there is truly a problem.
  2. Call a family meeting. Inevitably, there will be one family member who says, “Everything is fine, Mom’s just a little confused.” There will be another family member who wants to send Mom to a nursing home as soon as possible.  The trick is to lay out all of the information and craft a plan so that everyone feels more comfortable with the situation.
  3. Considering hiring help. The easiest way to delay a move to a nursing home is to hire someone to come in and help on a daily basis.  This has a few benefits: not only will someone be there to report back on Mom’s progress, but Mom will also have someone making sure that she eats and bathes on a regular basis.
  4. Focus on quality of life. Being able to prepare your loved one for life in a new community is your greatest asset as a caregiver.  Having scheduled transportation and an active social calendar can help give seniors back some of the independence they may be losing by staying at home.  Focusing on the benefits of such an arrangement is to your advantage.  Another option, especially for seniors who have had surgery or need short-term help, is to emphasize how temporary the move can be.  Once they regain their strength, they’ll head back home.

While almost all seniors have qualms with giving up their independence, most will eventually realize when they can no longer live on their own.  Unfortunately, that realization may take longer than you would like.  Rather than try to force someone to move when they aren’t ready, take time to understand why they’re reluctant to move.  Don’t try to reach a conclusion in one sitting.  Instead, focus on small changes that can improve your loved one’s quality of life and help give you peace of mind.