Tips for talking to your parents about senior living

Daughter side hugging her elderly mother as they smile and take a while outside.

If the thought of talking to your parents about senior living seems daunting, read our helpful tips.

1. Start the conversation early.
Talking to a parent about moving to a new home, especially a retirement community, assisted living or long-term care, can be difficult for everyone involved. But waiting until they’re in the middle of a crisis to begin that conversation can make things even worse. Starting the conversation early can get your parent comfortable with the idea.

2. Tell them how you feel, not what they should do.
Trying to tell your aging parent what he or she needs to do can make parents feel defensive — as if they’re no longer in control. Focus on using “what if” language rather than “should” or “need to” language. Expressing why you’re concerned about their health or safety may help your parent be more willing to discuss the situation with an open mind.

3. Recognize they’re fighting to hold onto more than a house.
Your aging parents may fear losing their independence, so even if they know otherwise, they may deny there’s any need for assistance. You can help them overcome this by acknowledging their feelings and encouraging them to express what’s on their minds. Help them by finding senior living solutions that maximize their independence and offer opportunities to make new friends and feel a sense of belonging.

4. Encourage, but let them make the final decision.
Explain to your parents that you’d feel better if they would be willing to learn more about their options. Urge them to accompany you on visits to potential independent living, assisted living, or long-term care communities where they can talk to residents and get familiar with the environment. Unless an elderly parent is a danger to themselves or others, or is mentally incapable, they have a right to manage their health care and living arrangements. Acknowledging this helps them feel in control to make decisions and more open to considering a change.

5. Patience is important.
Convincing a parent to move will require more than one discussion. Taking time to truly listen and hear what they have to say is key. This encourages parents to speak openly and demonstrates your respect for their feelings and point of view. Once they realize you truly have their best interest at heart, they will be more willing to consider a move with hope and excitement.

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