Making the decision to enter memory care is difficult for seniors, and it’s a process to get them to accept that this is the right choice. They of course want to remain on their own as long as possible. A big decision like this can’t be forced. Your best chances of success lie in helping your parent own the decision, so that they have the feeling that this is something they’re choosing for themselves. Here’s a step-by-step plan for how to get your parent to accept a move to memory care.
1. Help mom or dad begin to get used to the idea. Identify problems that would be solved by a move to memory care and how that move would improve quality of life. For example: “You know, mom, you wouldn’t have to worry about hiring someone to take care of the lawn if you were in memory care.” Or, “Dad, wouldn’t it be nice if you lived somewhere with people your own age around?”
2. Offer to help them tour some nearby memory care facilities on a no-strings-attached basis. Try to seek out activity times when they can notice the residents having fun. However, it may still be too soon for them. Be prepared to just drop it if they show resistance to the idea.
3. Help them see the signs that it’s the right time for this sort of care by connecting this need to things that happen. For example, when mom leaves the stove on, gently but tactfully use the opportunity to point out that both of you would be less worried about these incidents if she were in memory care. Be careful not to be too pushy here, unless there really is a crisis brewing that would necessitate moving quickly.
4. See if anyone your parent knows has made a move to memory care, assisted living, or a similar facility who is happy with their choice. Or see if the relatives of any of your own friends are enjoying senior living. Take your parent to visit that person, or at least set up a phone call. This will help make the idea more real to them, and may make moving to the same facility more appealing. Even having one friend in a new place can help.
5. When you go on tours, point out all the positive aspects of the facility. Be as excited as you would be about renting a new apartment or buying a new home: focus on the possibilities. Would mom’s favorite antique chair look good in the rooms of a particular facility? Does the activity room have a piano so that dad could still play?
Once you’ve gone through this process, wait for all that you have seen and discussed to sink in. Don’t expect that they’ll have that “Aha!” moment right away: unfortunately, it often takes some sort of accident or crisis for a move to seem necessary. They are making a huge life decision, and that needs to be respected. If you are feeling the need to move your parent along in this process, however, the most effective argument would be to say that you and other family members would have much greater peace of mind if they were in a memory care facility. Remind them how much their safety means to you. This will hopefully help them to see the importance of making the move.