If you have a parent living at home alone, you likely have the nagging feeling that you need to start the senior living conversation with your parent. It’s so easy to procrastinate until suddenly something happens that makes a move inevitable, which presents a whole new set of problems. Having the senior living conversation doesn’t have to be contentious though, and there are ways to make it positive and productive. When preparing for the senior living conversation keep these tips in mind for a smooth conversation.
Addressing the subject before a move is necessary is the first step towards making the conversation easier. This preemptive conversation is a good idea for planning and plants a seed for thought, giving your parent time to consider the idea and to do his/her own research. Having a senior living conversation early also helps prepare for the possibility of needing senior living due to an accident, illness or injury – the idea won’t come out of the blue and your parent will better understand why it’s the best move.
Another good point to share with your parent is the ability to seamlessly transition to a higher level of care if he/she needs it without having to leave the community. Continuing care retirement communities (i.e. life-plan communities), like Lutheran Village at Miller’s Grant, provide independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation; some also offer memory care support.
You may find AARP’s Care to Talk?™ Conversation Cards to be a helpful resource for starting the senior living conversation. These customized conversation cards can help you start meaningful discussions about health care, finances, future plans and more.
Not surprisingly, your parent may be associating today’s senior living communities with the nursing homes of long ago – small, cramped rooms, institutional food, and not much to do all day were once the norm. Things have changed a lot since then. You can make serious inroads in the senior living conversation simply by explaining all that modern luxury senior living communities offer such as:
Even better, share our Today’s Senior Living Communities: Not What They Once Were blog post with your parent.
You probably have many reasons for wanting to have a senior living conversation with your parent. It’s a good idea to address those reasons honestly and openly so your parent understands your needs and concerns and vice versa. Maybe your family is going through changes like a move away, a health crisis or other reasons you may not be able be or continue being a caregiver. Perhaps your parent’s health has taken a turn or he/she has become injured and needs more care than you can provide. If they have fallen, are experiencing memory problems, have become isolated, aren’t eating well or if you are concerned about their health and safety when alone, all are legitimate reasons for having the senior living conversation. Learn more in our blog post, How Safe Is Your Home for Aging in Place?
While you may feel you need to convince your parent and have prepared plenty of information, it is also essential to listen to him/her. Avoid the temptation to counter every statement your parent makes with one of your own. Instead, let them speak and when they are finished, and gently rebut all negatives with positives to the greatest extent possible.
For example, if your parent expresses concern he/she won’t see you much anymore, remind your parent you will have more quality time together since you won’t have housekeeping and other chores to do for him/her. If your parent is afraid of losing his/her independence, let your parent know that today’s senior living communities prioritize independence and work hard to keep residents at the top of their game. Our blog post, Four Differences of Nursing Homes and Senior Living Communities, details how senior living communities support independence.
The senior living conversation may not be easy but following these tips – starting the senior living conversation early, describing modern improvements, explaining your concerns and listening with patience – will help make the conversation easier and may just be the catalyst you need to help your parent experience his/her best possible life!
Learn more from our Senior Living Options Guide, which provides more tips and information about having a senior living conversation with your parent.