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How to Talk to Parents about Assisted Living

When the time comes to talk to your parents about options for senior living, it can be tough to figure out how to introduce the topic. Of course you only want the best for your parent, but this conversation can provoke a lot of emotion, especially if your parent is concerned with losing their independence.


The good news is many senior living communities promote independence amongst their residents while making sure they have access to the care they need. Residents even experience a burst in their social life as many communities plan an abundance of social and wellness programming. Moving into a senior living community is not the end of the world. You just have to convince your parent as such.

The way you approach the conversation can greatly improve how smoothly it goes. Below are some tips on how to talk to parents about assisted living.

Open the Conversation by Speaking Hypothetically

Your parents may not believe they need any extra care or assistance, even though the signs may seem obvious to you. If this is the case, it may be helpful to speak hypothetically or start sharing what mutual friends or acquaintances have experienced. Focus on the benefits of making the change. Talk about the convenience of having someone else shovel the driveway or not having to pay for replacing the roof. If both parents are still alive, ask them what their plans are if one of them passes before the other. These aren’t the easiest conversations to have, but it is a good way to gauge what, if any, plans your parent(s) have made – or to plant the seed if no plans have been made at all.

As you may expect, it takes elderly parents time to warm up to the idea of moving into a senior living community. You should talk about it frequently and carefully, treating it as an ongoing conversation rather than an ultimatum.

Speak Calmly and Carefully

During the discussion, highlight the benefits of assisted living and moderate the tone of the conversation. If you’re at the point when the decision is more pressing, there are a few things to consider. First, make sure everyone is on the same page. These discussions can quickly escalate when there are too many relatives and family dynamics involved. It’s important to talk to your family members first and know what each person’s role will be. You can also bring a third party into the discussion. A doctor, faith community member or friend can help alleviate tension and mediate since they don’t have familial ties.

Be Empathetic

Let your parent know that you’re going to figure this out together as a family. Change is difficult for almost everyone, including your parents. Respect their feelings and listen to their concerns. It’s important you enlist them as a team member rather than trying to dictate their plans.  Don’t frame the potential change as a problem, but rather present it as a solution to health or mobility concerns. Bring up the perks of living in a community where they can socialize with other people their age. Showing them you’re empathetic to their feelings will help open them up to options you suggest.

Know your options

You can keep the conversation focused on solutions by versing yourself in the different types of senior living communities and lifestyles available in the area. Learn about your parent’s financial situation and learn about options for funding, such as long-term care insurance. Research communities in your region for things like reputation, safety reports and testimonials.

Thinking about your approach to the conversation in advance helps to create a smooth decision-making process. These discussions aren’t easy, but they are very important to the well-being of your parent(s) and family.

Melrose Meadows is a certified assisted and independent living community in Iowa City, Iowa. We pride ourselves in providing a senior living community that supports an independent lifestyle in a vibrant all-inclusive setting. Schedule a tour today and let us help you navigate the options for your future.

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