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How to Talk to Your Parents About Senior Living

After decades of looking to your parents for advice on everything from jobs and finances to home repairs, parenting, and more, it can suddenly feel strange to be the one offering them life advice. But if you’ve noticed some changes in your parents’ lifestyle, mobility or health, now might be the time to start talking to your parents about senior living. Even if your parents already know what they’re doing right now isn’t working, moving to a senior living community can start to make everything feel more real.

This blog post will offer suggestions on talking to your parents about senior living so that everyone feels heard and comes to an informed decision.

Knowing When It’s Time to Talk

When having important conversations, timing is everything. So here are some things to look for to make sure the time is right: 

    • Depression. Fatigue; insomnia; and being moody, irritable or grumpy are all possible signs of depression. 
    • Forgetfulness. If your parents’ forgetfulness puts their safety at risk, start exploring senior care options right away.
    • Falls. Look for signs of bruises, head injuries, and even broken bones. Your parents may also cut back on regular activities out of fear of falling again.
    • Weight Loss. If you notice one or both of your parents seem to be quickly losing weight, it could be a sign of gastrointestinal disease, cancer, or a psychiatric disorder.
    • Poor hygiene. Watch for signs of body odor, bad breath, tangled hair or ragged nails. When you visit, keep an eye out for unwashed dishes, spoiled food, insect activity, and other signs that your parents are having difficulty keeping up with regular housekeeping activities.
    •  Mobility issues. Watch for signs your parents are having trouble walking, climbing stairs, and performing other movements.

Before Talking with Your Parents About Senior Living

If you don’t regularly talk about the future with your parents, here are a couple of things to do when you notice they might need a lifestyle change:

  • Research your options. Learn about the different types of senior living options, including Life Plan Communities, independent living and assisted living. You can find resources online. 
  • Plan to keep talking. This could be a very involved process, so plan to have regular conversations with your parents over a period of time. Start by having open discussions about their health, safety, and challenges they may be facing. Don’t try to get everything planned in one, two or even three conversations.
  • Involve family. You don’t have to do this alone. Include your siblings when you talk with your parents. You can also bring up the topic of senior living when your parents visit their doctor.

Talking with Your Parents About Senior Living

Where your parents live now probably feels safe and familiar. That’s why it can be hard to talk with them about leaving a home they’ve lived in for many years. But it’s critical to have these important conversations as early as possible. When you start early, you have the opportunity to include your parents in all aspects of planning, ensuring you carry out their wishes — including health services and financial decisions. To help you get started, here are some questions to ask:

  • Are you ready to give up the chores of home maintenance and upkeep?
  • Would you like to cook and clean less?
  • Do you want to socialize and travel more?
  • Is it time to learn a new hobby or make time for an old one?
  • Would you like to decide your future rather than have your family decide for you?

But no matter what questions you ask, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Empathize. To your parents, moving could make them feel like they’re giving up their independence. So remember it’s a big decision for them, and make sure to reinforce how even if they need assisted living services, it could actually help them be more independent.  
  • Be a follower. Include your parents in every important decision. This will help them feel empowered, respected, and make them feel good about the decision. It’s perfectly natural for your parents to have second thoughts along the way. When that happens, remind them of their goals and plans for the future.
  • Talk what-ifs. If your parents are living together and one or both of them have a chronic disease, discuss their plan for the future and what they’d do if one or both of them had a medical emergency. You can also point out the benefit of living in a maintenance-free community with social opportunities and engaging activities for both of them.
  • Arrange a visit. It’s easier for your parents to dismiss the idea of making a move if they haven’t seen the community. Once you settle on the type of community that will best fit your parents’ lifestyle and plans for the future, arrange a visit. That way, they’ll be able to make a more informed decision.
  • Keep talking. Start by planting seeds, especially after you notice your parents talking about not having anything to do, missing their friends, or being tired of having to look after the house. These topics can help lay the groundwork for future conversations. 

Live Your Way, Every Day

As a Life Plan Community, South Port Square offers an active lifestyle backed with a smart plan for the future with access to on-site care, if ever needed. We’ve helped hundreds of families just like yours find an option that fits. To learn more, start the conversation by contacting us here.