Deciding to enter yourself or a loved one into a residential care facility is a difficult call. These facilities can represent a loss of independence, but may be medically-necessary. If you determine assisted living is needed, you must have the talk with your family. It can be an emotionally-charged talk, but it’ll need to happen.

How can you broach the subject of nursing homes without it becoming a problem?

Start the Conversation Early and Slowly

The process of convincing a loved one to move into residential care should begin long before it’s needed. Planting the seeds of the idea early ensures that it’s an easy decision when it’s time. How?

It gives them awhile to mull over the thought, keeping them from feeling like they’ve been railroaded into a nursing home. Additionally, it keeps the eventual talk from becoming a full-blown argument. You’ll have done a lot of the groundwork already, giving your loved ones time to research residential care facilities. It also familiarizes them with assisted living, which can reduce some of their concerns about senior living options.

Discussing assisted living slowly helps you and your loved ones avoid rushing to choose a nursing home, which can be dangerous. After all, a good residential care facility can improve a person’s quality of life, while a bad one can hurt it.

Get Others on the Same Page First

When it’s time to discuss assisted living with a loved one, your first step should be getting other individuals who should be involved to agree with the same plan. Organize a pre-talk conversation with anyone who will be at the final talk. It’s a good idea to also talk to their physician and insurance provider, both of whom can give you further guidance.

Don’t include the loved one you’re trying to convince yet. The pre-talk conversation is to make sure the group understands and agrees with the message. Nothing can sink your case faster than one person breaking rank unexpectedly.

During this meeting, cover the logistics of the move, as well as the finances and benefits. Give everyone a chance to voice their opinions and adjust the plan according to their feedback. It’s important that you’re all singing from the same song sheet.

Consider Who Will Be Entering Residential Care

If you’re considering assisted living for yourself, you’ve already passed the most difficult barrier. Convincing someone to move out of their home is the hardest, most emotional part of the discussion. Since you’re making the decision, the nursing home talk becomes less a debate and more of a team-planning session. Gather your family to talk about the how and when of the move, instead of the why.

The conversation becomes much more difficult when a loved one needs the care. There is no perfect way to open the talk. The stigma around nursing homes can be a difficult barrier to breach. Many seniors will be automatically resistant to the idea. Remember, they’re dealing with the idea of losing their independence. Some hesitance is understandable.

Knowing how to work into the subject will depend who you’re trying to convince. Some may prefer to get right to the point, while others may need to be eased into the idea. Just remember that, when talking to your loved one, it’s important to set the right tone by being positive and understanding. This will also help you avoid making them feel like a child.

Plan Ahead and Do Your Research

When it comes time to have the conversation, be informed. If you start talking about nursing homes without options or a plan, you’re not convincing anyone. With any plan, there are many factors to consider when thinking about assisted living. First, identify the kind of residential care you or your loved one needs. There are different types of facilities, matching the needs of those living there. Narrowing your options to a few choice facilities may make the decision even easier in the long run.

Once you have figured out the type of facility, investigate the expenses. Medicaid or insurance may cover some expenses of a nursing home, but the majority of the costs will be out-of-pocket. Knowing what fits in the budget and how to afford care will be important.

Look into the different locations as well. What kind of activities and amenities do they offer? What are the reviews saying about the home? Are there complaints of too few staff or have they received negative press lately? Asking the right questions about nursing homes will give you some idea of each place and help in the long run.

Finally, if you or your loved one (whoever is entering the facility) owns a house, you must decide what to do with the house. Medicaid may place a lien on the home of a Medicaid beneficiary entering residential care facility. They may collect on that lien once the beneficiary passes away. You or your loved one may sell the house for a fair market price, but this could cause Medicaid ineligibility. Speaking to a lawyer or doing a little research can make your options clearer.

Make Sure They Feel Heard and Understood

Throughout the conversation, make sure your loved ones feel you’re listening to them. This is a big life change, and you should at no point shut them down or belittle their concerns. Instead, acknowledge their worries and address them. Only when everyone is on board can you easily move forward. Ultimately, the decision to move is up to the individual the move concerns (unless a court rules otherwise — which is rare).

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It can be tough talking about a residential care facility, especially for someone else. The chat can leave you both feeling anxious, guilty, and frustrated. Knowing how to introduce the subject, and how to navigate this tense conversation, will save you and your loved one stress and tears.

Further Reading

A Place for Mom — Moving Elderly Parents: Convincing Mom & Dad
The Shop & Enroll Blog — What are the Different Kinds of Residential Care Facilities? The Shop & Enroll Blog — When Is It Time for Assisted Living?