Your parents have been having health issues, and you’re concerned about their safety in their current home. You think they’d be safer living in a senior living community, but you’re not sure how best to have a conversation with them about it.
You’re certainly not alone. Many Americans with older parents face the same challenge. It’s not easy. That’s because many parents don’t want to have the conversation.
If you’ve already suggested senior living, your parents may have told you that you’re overreacting. They’re just fine, thank you very much. Or they may simply refuse to discuss it.
You understand their reluctance, up to a point. After all, if you were in their shoes, you probably wouldn’t react well to having someone suggest where you should and should not live.
On the other hand, they don’t seem to be facing the facts of their situation. Maybe they’ve been losing weight because they’re not eating properly. Or they’re not taking their medications. Or they’ve had a bad fall. Or they’ve been hospitalized recently. Or they’re making poor decisions. But they don’t take kindly to you raising these concerns in a conversation.
So, how can you try to get past this kind of impasse?
The first step is to dive a little deeper into why your parents might be shutting down the conversation. Start by unpacking their fears and concerns.
Fear of losing control
For instance, they may be concerned that you now see them as frail and incapable. They may even worry you’ll try to coerce them into moving.
One way to allay this concern is to assure them it’s their decision to make. Avoid backing them into a corner. Invite them to share their concerns. Listen. Don’t debate what they’re feeling. Show that you’re taking them seriously by offering to help them come up with a plan that takes their concerns into account. Let them see that you’re on their side.
Overcoming misconceptions about senior living
When you talk about senior living, they may be focusing on what they think you’re asking them to give up. A home of their own. Their independence. Control over what they choose to do (or not do) each day. Their privacy.
This may be based on myths about senior living.
Help them understand that moving to a senior living community doesn’t mean you have to live by a set schedule. In fact, senior living residents have a tremendous amount of choice. There’s a wide array of outings, activities, dining options, and social opportunities to choose from. Instead of being locked into a daily routine determined by someone else, community members set their own course, trying as many new things and discovering as many new interests as they like.
As for concerns about privacy in a senior living community, residents can spend as little as much time with other people as they’d like each day. They can while away the whole day reading in their comfortable private apartment if they wish. And when they feel like socializing, all they have to do is step out your door. They decide how to spend their time and who to spend it with.
Focus on benefits of a move as opposed to the need for care
Few people are happy to be told they need care, even if it’s true. That’s why focusing on the advantages of a move over the necessity of a move can get you more traction in a conversation with your parents. Are there certain aspects of living in their own home that your parent isn’t enjoying anymore? Maintaining their own property? Making their own meals? Climbing the stairs? Feeling lonely? Point out how moving to a senior living community could eliminate these hassles. Plus, remind them that selling their home could free up equity they could spend on things that are important to them.
Free guides on senior living, such as our Senior Living Options Guide [link], can help your parents better understand these benefits. Seeing a community for themselves will give them an even clearer idea. Try to get them to agree to take a tour of at least one community that you think might be a good fit for them. Some communities even offer trial stays for people who are still figuring out whether senior living is right for them.
If you’re interested in exploring senior living communities as an option, check out our free Senior Living Options Guide.