Talking to aging parents about senior living can be a daunting topic to consider. For many adult children, this may be one of the first conversations of this kind that they have with their parents. Knowing how to start that discussion and when can be crucial knowledge to ensure a happy and productive experience.
Prepare By Doing Your Own Research
Before initiating a conversation with your aging parents, it is imperative that you do your research. A great way to begin is by simply learning the basic terminology, getting familiar with the most common senior living options available and educating yourself with the basic details about the different levels of care. For example:
- What is a senior living community?
- What kind of care does each level provide?
- Consider geographical location.
- What is a Life Care Community? CCRC?
- How much does senior living cost?
Learning the details helps you help your parents to consider the best fit for them.
Be Open to Talking with Aging Parents About Their Needs and Fears
Do your parents have any difficulties with daily living activities, such as medication compliance, home maintenance or personal care? Assessing your parent’s current needs and their fears about senior living can keep you both on the same page. Your parents may have previously been apprehensive about moving because of the misconception that they could not have a pet in their new home, for example. Talking through their worries and prior ideas about senior living is a great place to start.
The In-Person Connection
It is best to approach this conversation with your aging parents in person. However, if that is not possible, consider video chat so that you both can see each other’s faces and connect in real-time. And no matter what, remember to be an active listener and make them feel like their concerns are being heard.
Don’t Rush the Talk and Plan to Talk Again
A conversation about senior living is not a one-time thing. Think of your initial discussion as just learning from each other about needs and concerns, and make a plan to have another talk soon. This first conversation is about making connections, not about making decisions. Make sure you set aside lots of time for this discussion so that no one feels rushed.
Listen! Hear Them Out
Nobody wants to feel talked down to or have their current lifestyle criticized. Try to avoid negative language and patronizing remarks when communicating with your parents. Treat them with respect and keep them as an equal partner in the conversation.
There are tons of senior living options out there, so be sure to reassure your parents that you will work together as a team to find the right path forward. Make sure they feel confident that they will not have to sacrifice their lifestyle or their individuality in senior living.
Don’t Wait to Have the Talk
Rather than waiting for a crisis to spur this discussion, talk with your parents before there is a major incident. Earlier is always better.