Starting the Conversation About Moving to Senior Living
If you’re an adult child who feels like you need to have “the talk” with your parents about moving to senior living, it can be a hard discussion for several reasons. The biggest one is that no one likes to be told what to do, and if your parents don’t feel like they need or want to move into a “home,” you’ll probably be met with denial, resistance and even anger.
Here’s one important thing to keep in mind: this will be a long-term discussion, not a one-and-done conversation. This isn’t going to be solved in a day, and it may be a conversation you need to have many times in order to get your parents on board. Here are some ways to get the conversation started in a respectful and organized way.
● Organize your thoughts and reasonings. Why do you think your parents should move? Have you noticed that the upkeep of the big house is becoming too much? Are you worried about their health? Having clear reasons why you think a move is a good idea will arm you with talking points during a conversation.
● Understand their emotions. Prepare yourself for how you may be met during the conversation – and do your best to understand why they may be feeling that way. Be sure to validate their emotions and feelings during the conversation – remember, this is their life you’re talking about.
● Research options for them. A good way to begin a conversation is to present some options you’ve already researched. But be careful – you don’t want them to feel like you’re going behind their back. Present them as options, not as “these are the places we think you should go.”
● Don’t rush. You may be ready to make a decision, but your mother or father may need more time. Give them the space they need to internalize the decision and navigate their emotions. By not forcing the issue, you’ll find that the entire process becomes much, much smoother.
On the flip side, if you're a senior who loves the idea of giving up the hassle of your home, you might run into some unexpected resistance from your adult children. Your kids may balk at the idea of you moving because a) they think you’re too young for senior living, b) they don’t want you to sell the family home, c) they think it will cost too much. Everyone wants to feel supported by their loved ones when they make a big life decision, so sometimes it can be hard for seniors to start the conversation with their kids...no one likes to feel like people are questioning their decision, after all.
If you’re a senior adult who’s considering downsizing and making the move to a community – or if you’re already in the process and want to know how to spring the news on your loved ones – here are some tips for starting a conversation.
● Let them know your “why.” Probably the first question you’ll get after making the announcement is “why do you want to do that?” Not that you have to justify your reasoning, by any stretch of the imagination, but letting your children know why you want to move to senior living can be the first step towards helping them understand and accept your decision.
● Reassure them about the finances. The second question you’ll probably get is, “how will you pay for it?” Money is, of course, very important for everyone. Your children may be concerned about how you’re going to pay for your new living situation. Again, you don’t have to get into the nitty gritty if you don’t want, but you may need to prepare yourself for a conversation about budgets. This can be difficult if you have adult children or grandchildren who rely on your financial assistance. If that’s the case, you may need to come prepared with ideas of how to help them become financially independent.
● Ask them for their help (and be specific). A great way to get your loved ones on board is by asking them to be involved in the process. Involving them in the downsizing process can help them get excited for you (and also is a great way for you to hand off cherished items that otherwise would have to go into storage). You may also want them to come with you on community tours and meetings to get their feedback. And, of course, packing up and helping with the actual move will be insurmountable assistance when that time comes.
Hopefully, whether you’re talking to your adult children or to your senior parents, the other party will surprise you and be completely in agreement – and excited – about your move. It’s a big step, but one that will help you or your loved one open a new chapter filled with adventure, excitement and everything they need to enjoy life during their golden years.
If you have questions about senior living options, give us a call! We’re happy to help guide you in the right direction for you and your loved ones.