So you don’t keep the house as clean as you used to when your kids were all living at home, and sometimes you warm up a frozen dinner instead of cooking a balanced meal.
Now all of a sudden, they’re sending you newspaper articles about seniors tripping over piles of mail and trying to get you to tour the local assisted living community. No, thank you!
You may be retired, but you’re not ready to go to an “old-folks home" where all they do is watch The Price Is Right and eat bland food off hospital trays. And why would you want to leave the home you shared with your spouse for decades, the home where you raised your kids, and the place where you made so many beautiful memories to move to an assisted living community?
Whether you feel like you’re not ready yet or there are fears or concerns you have about assisted living, that have you hesitant to explore it, it’s not always easy to communicate to your children that all this talk about assisted living leaves you feeling like they’re stripping you of your freedom, independence, and current lifestyle.
So what’s the best way to approach these conversations with your worried children?
1. Get Your Doctor’s Support
Many older adults develop chronic medical conditions that make it difficult to do things like mow the lawn or walk up and down flights of stairs. But if you’re feeling relatively healthy and are still capable of managing medications, coordinating medical appointments (including transportation), showering, and preparing well-balanced meals, then you might not need assisted living just yet.
Consider asking your doctor when would be the right time to visit an assisted living community.
And even if the doctor supports your decision to continue living at home, there are still benefits to searching for assisted living before your health demands it.
“The earlier you start the search, the better, just so you know what’s out there,” says Bianca Syriac, Marketing Director at The Ivy at Ellington. “If you do the research ahead of time, it makes crisis situations easier because you’re already aware of who's out there and what kind of services they provide.”
Doing your research in advance, even if you never need to make the move to an assisted living community, allows you to communicate with your children your wishes should you be in a position where they need to make decisions quickly.
2. Tell Them About Your Week
Your kids just want to know that you’re happy and healthy. And if you’re not, they want to do what they can to support you. After all, that’s the way you raised them to be.
So when they ask what you’re eating or how you’re sleeping, don’t be afraid to tell them. But don’t stop there. It’s likely that your kids are worried about you being isolated at home alone, which for many older adults isn’t so much a choice but a result of other circumstances out of your control.
If you’re still getting to church, going to events at your local senior center, and making social calls, let your kids know. Tell them about who you’re seeing and what you’re doing.
But if you are feeling lonely and isolated at home, you might be surprised to learn that your fears might actually be preventing you from considering an assisted living community which is designed to help older adults stay young at heart and get back to enjoying a social and healthy life.
“The program is so full of activities throughout the day,” says Lindsay Redin, Executive Director at The Ivy at Ellington. “You won’t be in your home where there’s no engagement. There are people to talk with, walks to be taken, meals to be enjoyed. There are all these components of your day that you might not have had before.”
Between the fine dining, lectures by guest speakers, happy hours, and outings, assisted living might be an opportunity to start a new chapter in life.
3. Consider Hiring Home Care Support
Maybe you can run errands. You drive to the bank and the pharmacist once a week. But you don’t really like driving in the snow or after the sun goes down. Or perhaps you love to eat — you just don’t like to make it or clean the house after.
Flexible home care options are readily available. Home care aides can provide a wide range of services depending on what you want and need. They can help with light housekeeping, meal preparation, and laundry. Although home caregivers can’t perform medical care, they can offer medication reminders, schedule doctor’s appointments, and help with transportation.
But if you start to feel reliant on your home care aide for all your transportation — or if you end up spending most of your days home alone — you just might find that you enjoy community living.
Thanks to transportation services offered by most assisted living communities, residents visit the town by going out to eat at different restaurants, cheering on the local baseball team with a beer and hotdog, spending a day at the beach, taking a boat cruise on the river, and going to the local museum.
“Assisted living could be a chance for you to reinvent yourself or do an activity again you once enjoyed doing,” says Activities Director Lorelei Dubowski.
4. Share Your Fears
If you haven’t been to an assisted living community before, it’s hard to know what to expect: Are residents told where to be and when? Are the staff just a bunch of Nurse Ratcheds? The mind can run wild with all sorts of assumptions.
If you have concerns about assisted living, share them with your kids. Let them know that you’re worried that assisted living will strip you of your independence or that you’ll lose your privacy. But also think critically about how much independence you really do have at home: How much time do you spend on housework, shopping, and home maintenance? Are you able to get to the events and errands you want to?
Assisted living is designed to offer residents all kinds of freedom — to live in comfortable surroundings you don’t need to maintain; eat delicious meals you don’t need to prepare; and take advantage of intellectual, physical, and emotional enrichment opportunities you don’t need to seek out and plan for.
Many people who move to assisted living are happy to discover that community living actually improves their quality of life.
“I love seeing our residents flourish in a community that's safe and suitable for them, seeing an uptick in where they were,” Redin says. “A lot of residents were anxious to come here, and watching the anxiety go away as they transition to living here is rewarding to me.”
Adds Carrie Wilson, Reflections Program Director at Ivy at Ellington: “Most people realize once they move that everything provided in an assisted living community is so much more than that person could have at home.”
Ready to visit an assisted living community for the first time? Take a look at what The Ivy at Ellington has to offer.