Starting the Senior Living Conversation: How To Take the First Steps

October 31, 2017

Though it may be tough, it’s never too early to start a conversation with your aging parent or loved one about their future.

Aging can be a taboo topic. It’s hard to begin a conversation about senior or assisted living. But with the right steps, you can make it as smooth as possible.


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Here are some guidelines for starting the conversation with your parent:

 

1. Be Mindful of Your Environment

Schedule a meeting in a place where you’ll have more than five minutes to talk. Make time to listen. It may be helpful to have the conversations at a neutral site such as a quiet restaurant where you can truly have a serious conversation.

Don’t wait for a health crisis to start talking about senior living. Begin the conversation when your loved one is in good health, and can easily make their wishes be heard.

 

2. Invite the Right People to the Table

It’s also important to make your loved one as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Part of this can be having the right people present. Involve the entire family in the conversation, whether or not they can physically be there to sit down with you and your parent. Give everyone a voice.

 

3. Do Your Research

Know what options are out there before you talk with your parent. They are likely to have questions and concerns about what living in a senior or assisted living community might involve or what the transition would entail.

Are you looking for assisted living, that can adapt to your loved one as they age? Or an independent living community where your parent can thrive?

Even as you read up on the subject, don’t forget that this decision is a collaborative process. Work with your family members to see what options you have. Don’t be afraid to take tours of communities and take a hard look at finances together.

 

4. Listen to Your Loved One

Aging may scare them. They may not like the thought of a senior living community. That’s ok—hear them out and don’t cut them off from speaking. Let them know that you understand and respect how they feel.

Make a point to ask your loved one about their needs and wishes. If you’re well-researched, you may be able to calm some of their concerns. However, you should think of the conversation as opening the door to another series of conversations. You don’t need a definitive answer the first time you speak about senior living.

Don’t be afraid to speak from the heart and tell your loved one that you are concerned, that you are putting their interests first. But also keep in mind that you are not a parent in this situation: you are a partner in your loved one’s well-being.

 

With a little soul-searching, some research and the right pair of listening ears, your conversation with your parent may still be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be impossible.