How to Talk to Your Parent About Assisted Living?
Aging can be challenging; what may seem to be even more challenging is trying to talk with your parent or parents about it. One of the most difficult conversations children can have with their parents is about moving them into an assisted living facility. We’ve created this resource to help you start the conversation.
Initiating what could be a difficult conversation can be nerve-racking. How are they going to react? What if the conversation upsets them? Will they understand where you’re coming from?
The first step is to talk to them.
The most important thing is that your parent feels like you understand where they are coming from.
Start by asking these questions:
- What really matters to them at this stage of their lives?
- What’s working for them about their current living situation right now?
- What would make life easier or more enjoyable for them?
By asking your parent or parents these questions, you’ll give them a chance to let you know what they are thinking and how they are feeling. By really listening to them, they will be more likely to really listen to you. Plus, you will learn what to focus on when you’re looking for an assisted living facility and it may help them see why it’s time to move.
Once you’ve fully understood what’s important to them, you can start to discuss how to help them get more of what they want. Based on what we’ve heard from our residents’ family members, you might be surprised to find that your parents are more open to the idea of moving to a senior living community than you’ve assumed. They have likely been thinking about it themselves already.
Think about what you’ve observed about their current living situation that concerns you. Be sure that all the senior living communities you’re considering have the amenities that meet their needs.
- If you’ve noticed they don’t spend much time with friends, you can highlight the fact that senior living communities are full of people they can make friends with.
- If your parent isn’t eating well, is tired of cooking or never learned how to do it in the first place, tell them about the nutritious meals and chefs at assisted living communities.
- Has your parent expressed a desire to see a new part of the country or to get away from the too hot/too cold/ too_____ weather? Moving to a senior living community is a perfect opportunity to leave their hometown and start a new chapter of life in a different state.
Help them find their dream home
Now that you’ve started the conversation, the next step is to work with your parent to find the assisted living community that’s right for them.
Location: You may find that it’s easiest to narrow down options by state or climate. Are they tired of the weather where they currently live? Does your parent want to live in a sunny, warm, dry location? Or maybe they are tired of the heat? Have they dreamed of living with mountains in their backyard? Or maybe they want to stay in the same area so that they are close to family. Whatever their preferences are, you should be able to find a community that suits them.
Amenities: One of the best things about assisted living is all the assistance! Most communities are going to have all of the standard amenities (housekeeping, chef-prepared meals, medication management, assistance with daily bathing and grooming), but only the best go above and beyond with unique offerings like a fireside library, on-site whirlpool, and walking paths through beautifully landscaped gardens.
Community of Friends: What better way to choose a community to live in than one where you’ve already got friends? If your parent knows someone who has already moved to a senior living community, consider the location as an option for your parent. And, can encourage your parent to talk with that person about what it’s like to be there.
Help with the move and visit often
Once you’ve helped your parent or parents find the assisted living community that’s perfect for them, the day of the big move will eventually come. It’s very important that you help and support them in every way possible since moving to a new living situation is stressful no matter the circumstances. If they’ve decided to move across the country, plan on flying or driving with them and staying for a few days to help them get acclimated.
One of the main reasons seniors negatively view senior living communities is a feeling of abandonment by their families and children. After your parent is all settled in, give them a few weeks on their own to develop daily rhythms, make friends, and integrate into the community. And then: visit often! Make sure they know that you’re still a part of their lives by seeing them regularly.
Help your parents take the next big step in their lives
Now that you know how to start the conversation, there’s no reason to wait. Make it a little easier on your parents as they become older by listening to what they really want and need, and by helping to find the right senior living community.