“Change is good … You go first!”
Let’s face it – despite all the mantras out there about embracing change, none of us is too keen on it. We like our comfort zones, no matter how well we may know their limitations. You may recognize this in yourself, in a stubborn child, or in an aging parent who knows they need to make a change in living situation but is resisting even talking about it. This particular issue of the relocation conversation is common, and one we’ve touched on in earlier blog posts. It’s also a prospect that tends to raise a common set of objections we hear a lot when we deal with families. Here are the most common ones, and some ideas for addressing them:
- “I don’t want to live in a nursing home.” When it comes to what assisted living is – and isn’t – misperceptions abound, often because mom or dad has never visited an actual community. We therefore always suggest scheduling a tour early on in the process, when questions and assumptions can be preemptively addressed by staff, and even by the residents themselves. There’s no substitute for actually walking the space, peeking in the dining room, sitting in on a book group or fitness class – getting that first-hand look and feel. Ideally, we recommend arranging for tours at 2-3 potential communities to gain the best sense of what will best suit Dad’s needs.
- “I’ll lose my independence.” Here’s a paradox we see a lot: aging seniors living in their own homes often don’t even realize how much independence they’ve actually given up, just through having to keep up with the day-to-day grind of maintaining their living space. Assisted living is designed to offer residents all kinds of freedom – to live in comfortable surroundings they don’t need to maintain; eat delicious meals they don’t need to prepare; take advantage of intellectual, physical, and emotional enrichment opportunities they don’t need to seek out and plan for.
- “I don’t want to give up my routine.” We all tend to seek out the familiar, and this “creature of habit” feeling only increases as we age. Seniors often express anxiety over leaving familiar touch points in their lives, whether it’s a community of people, like their local parish, or a mail carrier they enjoy chatting with each day. The truth is, of course, that a move to assisted living doesn’t have to change all that. Local seniors can continue to attend their usual church service, or visit favorite shops, libraries, and other destinations, either with their own car or through the provided transportation. And while they may be saying goodbye to some old favorites, they are gaining access to new experiences and different stimuli, a process that has been proven critical to maintaining aging brain health.
- “I can’t afford it.” Here’s another common assumption that can cause seniors to hesitate. Quality retirement housing, whether it’s assisted or independent living, is certainly an investment that deserves careful attention and thorough research. But the good news is there are many personalized options that allow for greater flexibility, such as a la carte pricing. Again, here’s where setting up informational meetings at a few communities can really pay off. Not only can you perform more informed cost comparisons, but resident directors can direct you to the potential opportunities for cost savings that exist in their own communities, as well as information on other potential resources, such as VA benefits. It’s also worth noting that, depending on Mom’s current living situation, costs of living at home may not be that far off from what her assisted living costs would be, particularly vis-à-vis long-term maintenance. A Place for Mom is an excellent online resource with more information on this topic.