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How to talk to your parents about senior living

Approaching the subject of moving a loved one out of their home is never an easy conversation. While it may be obvious to adult children that there is a need for additional care, convincing a parent can be a harder, more delicate conversation.

The following tips can help you have a productive discussion with your parents about senior living:

Prepare to listen

The last thing you want is for your parent to feel that their fears and frustrations don’t matter. Hear them out, while making it clear that your goal is to keep them safe and healthy. Don’t expect this to be a one-time conversation; it may take some time before everyone is on the same page.

“Children should be empathetic and realize that the decision to seek senior living options comes with a host of emotions for their parents,” said Rebecca Littler, Chief Nursing Officer at Elderwood, a leading provider of senior care across the Northeast. “It’s important that parents are allowed the opportunity to voice their concerns and that the decision doesn’t feel rushed.”

Plant the seed

Find opportune times to casually mention the idea of senior living. For example, reference a friend’s or coworker’s parent who is very happy in an assisted living setting and suggest that such a move might help make your loved one’s life more stress-free.

“It’s advisable to start having these conversations during periods of wellness,” added Littler. “If you wait until the need is urgent, your parent won’t be able to be part of the discussion or decision-making process.”

Hold a family meeting

Before bringing up senior living to a parent, it’s imperative that all adult children are in agreement. Siblings who are not as involved as the primary caretaker—especially those who live out of town—may not realize the extent of the situation, so there may be some pushback. Noting specific safety concerns or examples of how your parent has struggled with normal activities can help them to better understand your reasons for considering an alternative living arrangement.

Talk up the amenities

Outdated ideas about of what senior living means are not uncommon among those considering a move. Today’s senior living facilities are bright, cheery and full of activities and events that can greatly improve the quality of life for residents. Activities typically include arts & crafts, fitness programs, cultural and historical experiences, games and social events such as happy hours or movie nights. Residents often make new friends and get to enjoy companionship that they would not have while living alone.

Research different senior living facilities

It’s only natural that your parent will have some concern about making the move to assisted living, but an in-person or virtual tour can go a long way in alleviating their anxiety. This is their—and your—chance to take in the ambience, meet the staff, get the lay of the land and see other residents in action. When the community is the right fit, your parent will have a much easier time imagining themselves living there.

Click here to learn more about the different levels of care available, including independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing.

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