How to Talk to Your Parents About Senior Living (And What To Do If They Disagree)
Let’s be real, talking to your parent about senior living isn’t likely to be something you look forward to for a number of reasons. One, it’s surreal when the roles start to reverse between parent and child. Two, often the conversation comes about because something has happened to make you think senior living would benefit your parent more than staying at home which can be difficult as well. And three, you have no idea how to go about the conversation in a way that won’t make them defensive. These tips can help make it easier.
Consider Your Approach
Before jumping into the conversation, it’s important to consider how you’ll approach your parent. We recommend putting yourself in their shoes and trying to see the situation from their perspective. Forexample, think about some common fears about aging that your parent might be experiencing such as losing their independence, declining health, having todepend on others, and/or being isolated and lonely. They might see a move tosenior living as a fast track to these becoming reality so it’s important to frame the conversation in a way in which helps to alleviate these fears.
Talking to Your Parent About Senior Living
When it’s time to talk to your parent about senior living, don’t look at it as your one shot to convince them to move – it’s too much pressure on both of you! And it’s unrealistic as a decision like this is too emotional and too impactful to be wrapped up in one sitting. Think of this conversation as the beginning of an open discussion about what your parent wants and needs for the future. That said, there are some communication dos and don’ts.
1. Write out talking points – Writing down what you want to get across ahead of time can not only help to clear your head and focus your thoughts, but you can also refer to them if so, you’ll remember everything.
2. Avoid distractions – When you’re deciding when and where to talk, make sure it’ s in a place that’s as free of distraction as possible and that you allow enough time for the conversation to flow naturally without a hard stopping point.
3. Ask questions – Your parent needs to feel like you’re on their team for them to open up to you. Before sharing your concerns, you might start the conversation with questions like:
- Do you enjoy cooking as much as you used to?
- Are you still comfortable driving?
- Is the house becoming too much to manage?
- Do you have any concerns about safety in the house – lighting, stairs, etc.?
- How comfortable are you with managing your personal care and/or medications
- Are you able to connect with friends as often as you’d like?
- Do you wish you could get out ofthe house more?
- What’s something you’d really enjoy the opportunity to do?
- What are your concerns about the future?
6. Avoid dictating decisions – Yes, the roles may be reversed now, but they’re still your parent so make sure they feel respected and heard. It’s their future and they should certainly be included in the decision-making process, not told what to do. Otherwise, you may strain your relationship.
7. Educate on senior living – Your parent may have misperceptions about senior living that increase their hesitation to move from home. To overcome this, make sure to educate them on benefits such as maintenance-free living, a range of amenities and activities that help them get the most of life, peace of mind that support is always nearby, along with a group of neighbors and friends in which to enjoy it all!
If Your Parent Disagrees
Even after your best efforts, your parent may still be hesitant about senior living, but don’t give up. Remember, consider this as an open discussion. Just give them the time as well as the opportunity to fully process this change and keep talking with them. Also enlist the help of other family members as well. Or, even a neutral third party such as your parent’s physician, spiritual leader, or friend can be helpful. What’s more, we’re always happy to answer any questions or schedule a personal tour so your parent can see firsthand how senior living can help them thrive.
For more information, contact a GenCare Lifestyle community near you, or schedule a tour today!
We can help you navigate the process and find the perfect community for you or your loved one.