Topics Like Assisted Living Have a Nasty Habit of Creating Tension in Otherwise Excellent Relationships

Tension happens in just about every relationship from time to time. Jake and Sarah knew this very well. In recent months, though, Jake was watching the relationship between his wife and her mother begin to deteriorate. Most of the tension revolved around one specific topic: assisted living.

Both Jake and Sarah honestly believed assisted living was a far better option for her mother at this point in her life than continuing on in the same house she had been living in for more than four decades.

They both understood the emotional attachment Sarah’s mother had to that house; Sarah grew up there, too. Yet, the fact that her mother continued to call for help with various tasks, including yard work, getting the mail, taking out the garbage, opening or closing some of the windows that were sticky, and so forth. These were all clear signs to them that something needed to change.

They talked about assisted living between them first.

Assisted Living Fairhope, AL: Tension and Assisted Living

Assisted Living Fairhope, AL: Tension and Assisted Living

On many long evenings and well into the night, Jake and Sarah would talk about her mother’s situation. Assisted living was almost invariably a topic that came up every time.

They did a cursory investigation into assisted living and found a few facilities in the area that looked decent enough. The first moment Sarah brought up the topic, though, her mother shot it down.

She didn’t want to hear it.

Sarah was surprised at how adamantly opposed to the topic her mother was. Eventually, this caused a bit of anger and frustration for Sarah. After all, both she and her husband were the ones stepping up and helping her; the least she could do would be to listen.

As the days rolled into weeks that eventually turned into months, Sarah and Jake became more and more aggravated because her mother was getting hostile and belligerent every time the phrase ‘assisted living’ came up.

It was creating tension in an otherwise good relationship.

Eventually, they tried a different approach.

Sarah finally relented and realized her mother was simply opposed to the idea, but she didn’t know why. She had to assume there were certain misconceptions her mother had about assisted living.

Instead of talking about this type of living environment, Sarah and Jake shifted the conversation to discuss things her mother used to enjoy, but no longer took part in. They talked about playing games with her friends, going for walks, and even how she couldn’t keep up with the cleanliness of her home the way she wanted.

When they began discussing these topics as though they were still possible to do, Sarah’s mother became more open to the idea of assisted living, finally. Pushing a topic that can ratchet up tension in a relationship is rarely the right course of action.

Sometimes we simply have to tap into the innate desires and wishes of our loved ones to get them thinking about it more openly.


If you or an aging loved one are considering Assisted Living in Fairhope, AL, contact Ashbury Manor Specialty Care and Assisted Living at 251-317-3017.

About Cindy Johnson

Ashbury Manor’s Administrator since 2008, Cindy Johnson is a long-time expert in the assisted living field. Prior to her arrival at Ashbury Manor, Cindy managed acquisitions and crisis management for existing and new larger senior care project developments for eleven years. As regional manager for an Oregon-based assisted living management company, Cindy was directly responsible for operations for five 50-65 bed assisted living facilities. As manager during the transition to new ownership, Cindy reorganized internal operations and conducted leadership training for Executive Directors. As a result of her management and expertise, one of the company’s facilities (in Ocala, Florida) received a deficiency-free survey, resulting in the lifting of a moratorium on operation.

A nurse for 36 years, senior care has always been Cindy’s passion. Desiring to work more closely with residents, Cindy became a Category II Administrator in 2005. As Ashbury Manor’s Administrator, Cindy understands the complexities associated with dementia and cognitive impairment and she has fallen in love with seniors with dementia or cognitive impairment and their families.

Cindy is Treasurer of the local “Senior Coalition” chapter. She enjoys mentoring new candidates who want to become administrators.

As a 16-bed facility, with Cindy's training and experience, our residents and their families can be sure Ashbury Manor’s carefully selected staff provides the expertise of a larger facility while maintaining the individualized personal care of a small special needs home.
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