For many seniors, their care needs gradually increase. At first, maybe your mom just needed a little assistance around the house and some companionship. She enjoyed it when you started coming over more and more — to help cook dinner, do the laundry, drive her to doctor appointments. Now, she’s worried if she moves to assisted living, she won’t need you anymore, so you’ll never visit.
Declining Family Relationships
When a parent becomes dependent on you to assist them with everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing, meal preparation, or running errands, this role reversal can create tension in your relationship. Research shows 16 percent of caregivers feel emotionally strained, and 26 percent say caregiving is hard on them emotionally.
Caregiver burnout describes how a formerly positive relationship with a parent may be damaged by the burden of caregiving. But caregiver burnout affects more than just the care recipient. The caregiver may also withdraw from relationships with their spouse, children, and friends.
Yearning for Connection
Research shows that as much as aging parents want to be independent, they also want to experience connection with their adult children. That’s why your mom was so happy every time you came over to do laundry. She wants to feel closeness with her family — even when it feels like overprotection or that it’s hindering her independence.
Dealing with Guilt
Even if you promised your mom you’d always take care of her or if your dad asked you to never abandon him, moving a loved one to assisted living doesn’t mean that you’ve failed in your duty to take care of them. It makes you a great caregiver who is making a smart decision to get your loved one the level of care they need.
Although you won’t be the primary caregiver anymore, the care team at the assisted living community will call on you when they’re working on your loved one’s individualized care plan. You will talk frequently with the staff, manage your loved one’s overall care, and spend as much time with them as you can.
You are taking good care of your parent. You certainly haven’t abandoned them.
Handling the Objection
If your parent objects to assisted living by saying, “My family won’t visit,” emphasize that you want to preserve your relationship with your parent.
Share with them the ways that assisted living will actually allow you to spend more time enjoying your relationship instead of providing care for them. Instead of using visits to provide care and help them maintain their house, you’ll be able to stop by, socialize, and focus on simply enjoying each other’s company.
Try saying something like, “You’re spending all this time worrying about your home, but I want you to be able to enjoy your life and your retirement. I also want to enjoy the time we have together instead of cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, and worrying about your safety.”
Remind them that assisted living communities make it easy for family members to visit. Not only can they visit in the resident’s personal apartment, but they can also participate in programs and dine in the main dining room. Visitors can also join their loved one in many of the scheduled programs. Your parent can leave with family to attend reunions and family get-togethers, or these events can be scheduled at the community in a private community or dining area.
Assisted living helps seniors care for themselves while also offering access to an active and rewarding lifestyle. At the same time, when families no longer bear sole responsibility for meeting all of their loved one’s needs, it can reduce everyone’s stress level and frequently improves family relationships. The time that adult children spend with their senior parents can then become truly meaningful quality time.
As you help them transition to a new stage of life, it helps to be prepared with answers to their questions and concerns. For more insights into common objections and strategies for how to handle them, download our eBook The Standoff: Coping With a Parent’s Objections to Assisted Living.