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Tips for Talking to Your Parents About Assisted Living

happy senior woman spending time with her daughter

When you were younger, your parents always watched out for you, sometimes making difficult decisions that were meant to keep you safe. Now you’re an adult, your parents have gotten older, and you’re noticing they may need professional senior care. It’s your turn to make difficult decisions in the name of keeping your parents safe. 

You know it’s time to talk to your aging parents about assisted living. But how do you talk about assisted living? How do you start a discussion about their senior living options? And possibly most important: How do you get them on board with the idea of moving to an assisted living community?

How to talk to your parents about assisted living

Prepare yourself first. 

Before you approach your parents, consider what you’ll say. Write down the issues you’ve noticed in your parents — issues may include them forgetting to take their medications; trouble walking and experiencing more frequent falls; driving less and less or having some recent fender benders; failing to make meals or eating more takeout and frozen dinners instead; neglecting housework, laundry or the yard. 

Some of these things may actually be signs your parents need additional help with what’s called the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). The 6 ADLs are:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Toileting
  • Maintaining continence
  • Eating
  • Mobility

Do a little research. 

Educate yourself about assisted living by researching senior living options in your area. Get to know what features the communities have, and what types of residences, amenities and services they offer. If you and your parents don’t live close geographically, where would they like to live — in an assisted living community near their home, or closer to you? If you have siblings, would your parents want to be closer to one of them? Knowing what your options are, and being able to knowledgeably speak to all the senior living options, puts you in a better position once you sit down to talk. 

Set up the conversation. 

Choose a comfortable, private place to talk to your parents. A neutral location where you won’t be interrupted, such as the private dining room of a restaurant or a quiet nook in your local coffee shop would be ideal. You may have to give the location some serious thought, however: Your parents may feel more comfortable talking in their home, but that may not be the most neutral environment to have what could be an emotionally sensitive conversation. After all, the conversation involves them possibly moving from their home.

Enlist reinforcements if you need to. 

When you’re preparing to talk with your parents about assisted living, ask siblings to join you in the conversation. Or ask an objective, non-family third party your parents trust, such as a minister, family doctor or a longtime friend, to join you in the conversation. This can be a very sensitive subject, especially if your parents feel like they could be losing their independence. That’s why our next how-to suggestion goes hand in hand with enlisting reinforcements.

Share with your parents the problems you’ve been noticing, then discuss the solutions together. 

Many adult children say trying to force a decision on their parents feels more like an intervention. Your parents may close themselves off, shut down the conversation or become defensive if they feel you’re dictating to them what they should do. This approach simply comes across as the adult child taking away an aging parent’s freedom to choose. 

Instead, walk through the problems you’ve been noticing, such as your mom not picking up her medication refills, or your dad losing a lot of weight suddenly. Then start suggesting solutions to help them manage these issues, such as looking into assisted living as an option

 If your parents have different care needs, look for a Life Plan Community.

 Perhaps your mom needs no care, but she’s wearing herself down physically and emotionally trying to take care of your ailing dad. A Life Plan Community may be the perfect solution for them both.

Life Plan Communities typically offer independent living along with higher levels of care, including assisted living services, short- and long-term skilled nursing, rehabilitation and memory care. Each level of care is distinctly different, designed to meet the unique needs of the senior resident.

Conduct some in-person community visits both with and without your parents

Whenever possible, visit the assisted living communities that are being considered, first by yourself and then with your parents. If you visit first, you’ll be more familiar with what the community offers, can push the community’s positives and you can look at the residences they may move into.

Ultimately, you may have to have this conversation a few times with your aging parents before they make a decision. You may not succeed the first, second or even fifth time you talk with them. But remember to have patience and grace, and remind them gently that you’re genuinely trying to do what’s best for them. You may stumble, but your intentions are coming from a place of love and concern. It may just take a bit of time for them to arrive at a place of acceptance.

If you’re thinking about having the talk about assisted living with your parents, and you’re looking for a Life Plan Community in the Holland, Mi, area, we invite you to take a closer look at Freedom Village. We can help you learn about the senior living options we offer, and find the right fit for your situation. To get started, simply fill out our quick form or contact us.