Talking to parents or loved ones about moving into a senior living community is something many adult children find necessary. As with any subject that affects another person’s life, this one requires patience, empathy, listening skills, and above all, preparation. But if you do prepare, you will find it’s possible to have a positive, productive conversation that can satisfy both your parents’ need for autonomy, and your desire for peace of mind about their health and safety.
Talking to parents about senior living: know what to say and how to say it.
It can be hard to watch your parents age and begin to show signs that they might need to live in a supportive environment such as assisted living. But waiting until there’s an urgent need can be much harder on everyone. Instead, you can begin to make casual comments like “I see the gutters are really getting rusted. It’s exhausting to keep up with a home, isn’t it?” Or, “You know Jean’s mom just moved into a senior living community and she is having a ball.”
Be ready to listen.
There’s a lot to cover when it comes to talking about moving into a senior living community. Try not to be so loaded with facts that you forget to really hear what your parents are saying. Or, if they are not responding, don’t immediately fill the silence. They may be more receptive than you think and just need more time to consider what is being discussed. Talking to parents about senior living means doing a lot of listening.
Understand their fears.
Put yourself in their place and imagine how it would feel to have this conversation. If they’ve been active and involved most of their lives, they might be fearful that assisted living or any care level in a senior living community will take away their freedom and prevent them from living as they choose. Be ready with sound reasons why this will not be the case—but do not minimize their concerns.
Get family support.
Talking to parents about senior living affects everyone in the family. If you have siblings, contact them ahead of time and agree who should be in the conversation.
Choose a good time to talk.
We all take in information better when we’re rested and well fed. Decide what is a good time to hold your mom or dad’s attention and plan your talk for that time. It could be at their house, or in a neutral site like a park, where they don’t feel trapped.
It sounds obvious, but when you’re worried about something, it can be a challenge. Rather than directing the conversation to what your parent can no longer do or handle, instead bring up positive points like more free time, no more home upkeep, delicious meals, new friends, and peace of mind.
Gather good information.
Talking to parents about senior living requires doing your homework before starting the conversation. If you can share a brochure or website with your parent, that’s a great way to let the community speak for you. Research what communities are in your area and be able to discuss what you think is unique to each.
Suggest a visit.
Talking to parents about senior living is good, but taking them to visit a community is even better. Being able to see the grounds, walk the halls, meet residents, have a meal in the dining room, and simply get a vibe for a place is worth a million words. Virtual tours also can give an inside look at what makes the community a good choice. In addition, if you give your name and address to a community, you’ll be on a mailing list for special events, happy hours, health fairs and more—all great ways to warm up to senior living.
In assisted living at Senior Star, we value each person’s independence and are dedicated to giving them the freedom to support their health and well-being exactly the way they want.
Let us tell you more! Download our free guide: Should You Stay Or Should You Go: How to Decide Between Home and Senior Living. We are here to help you.