5 Tips for Having “The Talk” with an Aging Parent
Having “the talk” with a parent about moving to a senior living community is hardly ever easy. Many adult children find the very idea of beginning this discussion to be daunting. In some cases, they put it off until a crisis occurs. Families then find themselves scrambling to explore options at the worst possible time.
You are less likely to make an informed choice when you are rushed and stressed. Whenever possible, it’s better to begin discussing senior living options while a parent is healthy enough to participate in the process.
How to Initiate a Conversation about Senior Living
1. Do your homework first.
Before you open the discussion about senior living, do your homework. Your senior loved one will likely have questions, and you’ll feel more confident answering them if you spend time exploring options. Having a basic understanding of the differences between independent and assisted living will help, as will becoming familiar with the costs.
If distance or concerns about COVID-19 prevent you from visiting in person, spend time browsing community websites, making phone calls, and taking virtual tours. Senior living communities are accustomed to working with family members who live far away.
2. Be kind and empathetic.
Giving up a home, especially one where the family lived together, can be tough. Try to put yourself in your family member’s shoes. Think about how you would feel if you needed to give up your own home. Even when an older adult knows they are moving to a safer, more active environment, it can be difficult on an emotional level.
Also keep in mind that older adults often have outdated ideas about senior living. These fears may make them resistant to having this conversation. A few of the concerns seniors express most often include:
- Loss of privacy, independence, and autonomy
- Worries about expenses and running out of money
- Fear that family and friends will abandon them
3. Be prepared for multiple discussions.
Don’t head into this conversation thinking you can resolve things in a single afternoon. This rarely happens. Instead, be prepared for a series of talks. Tackling the topic early, while a loved one is still more active, is usually best. It will allow time for your parent or family member to adjust to the idea.
You might start by asking how they feel about where they live, or if any friends have moved to a retirement community or assisted living. That approach is less threatening. Then build from there over time.
4. Watch your tone and body language.
When you are scared about the safety of a parent or senior family member’s living situation, it’s easy to get impatient and even hostile. You think you know what is best and want them to quickly agree. If they don’t, it’s important to stay calm and positive. Watch your tone and body language. Don’t put the senior on the defensive.
Unless you are in the midst of an emergency, it may be necessary to let the topic go for a few weeks. Some families also find their senior loved one is more receptive to taking advice from their doctor or clergy.
5. Consider your loved one's worries about money.
Finally, remind yourself that financial concerns might be the reason for a senior’s reluctance. They may have spent their whole life being frugal and saving money. The sticker shock some older adults experience might need to be explored. It may help to compare the costs of staying home, such as home care assistance and maintenance, with the all-inclusive rate for senior living.
Mobile Medical Alert Systems
Families often worry a senior loved one will have an emergency and not be able to call for help. If you are just beginning to explore housing options for an older family member, investing in a mobile medical alert system can give you peace of mind.
No matter how long it takes to make a decision, you’ll know they will be able to summon help quickly with the touch of a button. Call us at 1-844-203-5617 to learn more!