5 Tips On How to Talk to Your Parents About Senior Living
Some of the most important conversations we need to have with the seniors we love are often the most difficult ones. And talking to your parents about senior living qualifies as one of these. You’ve picked up on the signs that it might be time for your parents or loved one to start considering a move to a senior living community.
It’s important to be prepared for a discussion like this. Your mom or dad will most likely have questions and objections related to the move. It’s a big decision for your family and it is important they are involved! You love your parents and you want them to enjoy the lifestyle they’ve worked hard to achieve, but you may not be sure how to talk to your parents about senior living and their next chapter. Not to worry, in this post we’re going to give you some helpful tips to get the conversation started.
1. Recognize the Risk of Waiting
It’s common for any important talk to be put off and procrastinated. Talking to your parents about senior living is one of them. Whether you find it uncomfortable or are worried about their reaction, the sooner you start the discussion the better.
An easy place to start is to encourage your older loved ones to make a decision when they have the power to determine their future and enjoy all the amenities a senior living community offers. By waiting, they limit their options and risk leaving the decision to someone else.
2. Recognize the Signs That a Conversation Is Necessary
Are you unsure about when to start the conversation about moving to a senior living community? Some of the signs that point to having this discussion include:
- Your loved one can no longer manage their medication or personal care.
- Changes in appearance or the condition of their home.
- A new chronic illness diagnosis or failing health.
- Appointments are being missed.
- Stacks of unopened mail.
- Bills are not being paid.
- No evidence of meal preparation and/or an empty refrigerator.
3. Understand How to Set the Stage
Typically, it is best to limit the conversation to immediate family only. A blend of in town and out of town family members is helpful. When talking to your parents about senior living, it’s important that they don’t feel ambushed. Be sure to tell them what’s going to happen beforehand. If it makes sense, it is okay to invite your spiritual leader. Here are some tips to help you set the stage:
- Ensure that all family members presenting are on the same page.
- Have a specific agenda and assignments ready for each family member.
- Have facts and observations ready to discuss.
- Do not talk over anyone and be sure to actively listen.
- Do not have the conversation at a family function or holiday setting.
- Provide a comfortable and familiar setting.
- Put effort in to limit interruptions (phone calls, texts, visitors, etc.)
4. Know What to Say and What Not to Say
Knowing what to say is important. Thinking about the level of care your loved one needs before having the conversation will help guide the conversation. For example, if you’re moving your parents into assisted living, you could start by talking about the importance of medication management. Here are some examples on what to say:
- Acknowledge the sensitive topic at hand.
- Say “I love you; I am so very concerned when I see this, we need to talk please.”
- Use humor when possible.
- Stay calm, avoid anger, and keep your volume down.
- Be respectful.
- Gently present the facts. Show them how moving can be beneficial.
- Be curious and ask follow up questions.
Now let’s talk about common mistakes to avoid:
- Do not make demands or ultimatums.
- Avoid personal attacks, accusations, or yelling.
- You shouldn’t try to squeeze everything into one long conversation.
- Don’t base your reasoning on emotion.
- Avoid any patronizing speech.
- Don’t let your conversation turn into an argument!
5. Know When to “Wrap It Up”
Every conservation has a natural ending point. Trying to push your parent past their limit can actually make them more resistant to discussing senior living options later on. When the conversation ends, be sure to:
- Express appreciation for having the conversation.
- Summarize action steps.
- Do your part (What is your assignment?).
- Don’t lose momentum. Schedule a tour and go together or set up time for another talk.
What If the Talk Doesn’t Work?
If your loved ones are adamantly opposed to exploring a move, agree to disagree. Then, review your approach. Is there someone else who your loved one would be more likely to accept advice from? Many families seek the assistance of an advisor who can help your loved ones understand the financial or lifestyle benefits of making a move.
At Luther Manor, We’re Here to Help
Now that you know more about how to talk to your parents about senior living, don’t wait until a crisis hits and the choice to move to a senior living community isn’t yours, or theirs, to make. Start talking with your older loved ones now and contact Luther Manor to schedule a tour of our life plan community.