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Moving Elderly Parents When They Don't Want To
When Elderly Parents Want to Stay Home

It's common knowledge, that older adults want to stay at home and age. It's confirmed by an AARP study that says 89% of the people choose to age in place. We hear it from our relatives too, "Please don't put me in a nursing home or assisted living. I want to stay home." It rings loud and clear for adult children.

When Living at Home Doesn't Make Sense

Dad living at home no longer works

Helping parents around the home, to cook, to clean, do yard work, and run errands are very kind and helpful. If an accident happens; dad trips and falls outside while mowing the yard, or mom slips in the bathroom, havoc reeks!

He's broken a hip and rush to the hospital. After the discharge, he comes home and has trouble getting around. He needs more assistance with daily activities of living, it's no longer "some" help around the house. It's more serious now.

Living Alone

Another issue that older adults face is losing a spouse. When that happens, the surviving spouse becomes listless, lonely, eats less, and isolated.

Adult children plug-in to helping. It only makes sense, especially when you can easily run over and check on him. What happens when you find the gas stove burner on and he's outside working in the garden?

Do you chalk it up to an honest mistake?

Your dad wants to stay home, after all he shared the it with your mom for 57 years! You want that for him too. But it's different now; he's complaining about sleepless nights and being depressed. He hates being alone all the time.

You begin to wonder if he should make a move. You'd love to move back home and be more available, but you have children, a husband, and a job.

How do you convince a parent that it's time to think about assisted living?

You resist the thought because you feel guilty. But a time comes when reality hits hard.

Develop a Solution Mindset

Step One: Plan Ahead

Research - understand first hand what assisted living is and what it offers your loved one. Consider visiting a few in the area, without your loved one just to get comfortable with the idea. If you tell your dad now, before the research, he'll likely buck the idea and you'll feel defeated even before you get started.

Look at options and their living arrangements. Pick out your favorites and document what you've learned. Take photos too, so you can share with the family.

Talk to the siblings. Get a feel for their opinions. Before going to dad with the idea, you'll need the siblings buy-in and agreement.

Step Two: Plant the Seed

Bring it up gradually. Don't go on and on about the wonderful places you've found. It's not the time. Drop subtle hints to get him to open up to the idea. Never approach the topic as though the decision's a done deal. Give him the time and space to mull over. Think how difficult it'll be giving up a home of many years.

Give him space - don't push it.

Step Three: List Why It's a Good Idea

Sit down and have a face-to-face discussion on why it's in his best interest, from your point of view. Refer to the benefits relating to him, no one else's. Point out the safety, health and medical benefits.

If he gives a firm, "No" - say you understand. Then politely offer to take him on a tour of a few assisted living communities. If necessary, give it up for a later time, if he's not willing.

Step Four: The Tour

Private rooms
Private rooms

Spend several hours during the tour. Give him time to enjoy the amenities and activities. Point out features like the good food (no cooking), no housekeeping, no yard work, potential friends and social events. Stress the features that enhance quality of life and safety.

Show how much privacy he'll have as a resident. Ask the marketing or executive director about bringing furniture from home and how much room he'll have there. During another visit, bring alone measuring tapes and imagine where to place furniture.

Ask to find out what he thinks, during and after each visit. Talk to the residents during the tour. Word of mouth is the best referral and a great resource for support.

It's his decision, as long as he is capable--mentally and physically. Always point out the positive features.

Let him know that you'll always be there for him. Remind him that he's not alone during adjustment.

Stay Positive

Let it all sink in. It may take a while to hear a "Yes", but the gate is open.

Ask other family members or close friends to talk with your dad. The more positive influence and support he receives, the easier the decision.

Be Sensitive to Feelings

Adult children have guilt about moving parents into an assisted living facility. The truth is, it's one of the most loving actions you make because it improves the quality of live from a safety and social perspective and extends parents' lives because they're closely watched and observed.

Carol Marak
Carol Marak

After seven years of helping her aging parents, Carol Marak has become a dedicated senior care writer. Since 2007, she has been doing the research to find answers to common concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, and planning long-term.