Last Updated: October 15, 2018
A move to an assisted living or senior living community may be one of the best decisions a family can make for a parent or senior loved one’s happiness, health and safety, particularly when they need more care than we can provide or they’re suffering from social isolation.
Lots of families delay this all-important decision, however, feeling helpless as their parent’s care needs escalate and their own caregiving stress increases. Learn more about the top reasons families will delay a move to assisted living.
Making a decision about assisted living is not easy or straightforward and there are a variety of reasons why families and seniors may try to avoid discussing this difficult topic.
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We surveyed A Place for Mom readers to pinpoint your family’s most pressing concerns and the results might surprise you.
Here are five of the most common reasons families might delay a move to senior living, along with some possible solutions for tackling each obstacle:
Of our survey respondents, 12% cited geographic distance — living at a distance or in another state from their loved one — as a reason for delaying their family’s move to assisted living. A study conducted by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving found similar results. Their research showed that 15% of family caregivers live one or more hours away from their care recipient. Living at a distance poses extra challenges to those searching for assisted living, adding stress and making logistics and timing difficult.
Possible Solution: If you are looking at the possibility of managing your loved one’s care at a distance, you are not alone. To make the process easier, schedule family meetings with other involved loved ones to discuss decisions ahead of time. Make sure to organize all the important documents and paperwork you might need, so everything is in place in case your loved one’s health situation changes unexpectedly. Seek help from online and offline resources and referral services in order to determine what will fit your loved one’s needs and your family’s budget.
Fully 22% of those surveyed said they delayed the move to assisted living because of the fact that they hadn’t talked to family and friends about it first. We may put off the decision because it is difficult to coordinate with other family members, or because we want to talk with experienced or trusted friends before figuring out what to do. Of course, it is painful to think about an aging loved one’s declining mental or physical health, which makes it easy to delay having those tough conversations. But doing nothing about it may put our loved one’s health at greater risk, so it is important to discuss issues such as health, logistics and scheduling before they become real concerns.
Possible Solutions: First, be honest with yourself about your own feelings and why the delay is occurring. Think realistically about what will happen if you do nothing about their situation versus what will happen if they move to assisted living. Don’t be afraid to seek help from a counselor, friend or a support group and don’t forget to involve your loved ones when it’s time to make a decision — but don’t put it off forever. If it’s pre-existing family conflicts getting in the way, remember that the focus should be on the welfare of your loved one and set a good example by trying your best to rise above sibling rivalries and making sure everyone’s viewpoints are heard.
Of the readers we surveyed, the greatest number (27%) said that their top reason for putting off the move to assisted living was in order to do more research — from calling communities to driving by the property to looking at websites. Families often worry about the ratings of the community and about what the community offer residents.
Possible Solutions: Researching assisted living care can seem daunting, but there are numerous resources out there for families to utilize in evaluating specific communities as well as different types of care. Those worried about ratings and quality of care should visit websites like Medicare.gov and A Place for Mom’s State Guide to Assisted Living Records and Reports. Consulting with one of our own Senior Living Advisors can also provide you with invaluable advice on senior housing in your community. The key is taking that first step toward seeking out help.
With the median monthly cost of assisted living rising, it’s no surprise that sticker shock is one of the reasons many families and seniors delay the move to assisted living — 13% of those we surveyed cited budget uncertainties or high expenses as a delaying factor.
Possible Solution: First, one important fact to remember is to check what is included in the monthly cost of assisted living: the sticker price may cover amenities such as housekeeping and meals — or it may not. The key is understanding what the costs mean and what you get for your money, so make sure to do your research about each community, consulting with your Senior Living Advisor if you need additional help.
There are a number of specific reasons why a loved one might be reluctant or even afraid to move into senior living — they may worry about losing their independence, they may fear that others won’t care for them properly, or they may worry about being bored. They may not feel they need to be in a “nursing home,” or they may be attached to their current home or pets and be understandably reluctant to consider the idea of parting with treasured possessions and memories in order to move into a smaller space.
Possible Solution: Get informed about the most common fears associated with assisted living and other retirement housing options and learn what you can do to openly acknowledge and discuss these fears rather than letting them derail the conversation. Once your loved one can articulate his or her worries and feel like they are being heard, you can take steps to assuage their fears. Then you can work together to discuss senior living options that value residents’ dignity, independence and privacy. Talking to a loved one about downsizing their possessions can be difficult, but once the conversation is open, you can encourage them to enlist trusted family and friends or even a professional move manager.
While these aren’t the only reasons families delay a move to assisted living, they are some of the most common — but being prepared and having realistic expectations will help you avoid potential roadblocks.
Has your family experienced issues in the process of moving a parent or senior loved one to assisted living? What was the issue that caused your family to delay? Share your stories with us in the comments below.