Talking to Parents About Moving to Assisted Living

There are many reasons why you may consider talking to a parent about moving to assisted living, including:

  • Declining health
  • Falls at home
  • Limited availability of family members to help
  • Difficulty managing the household or doing everyday activities

Regardless of the reason, this discussion can be difficult. Your parent may be resistant or refuse the idea altogether. It may also be challenging to calm your own emotions while dealing with the emotions of your parent.

While the conversation may be challenging, it is often necessary to make sure your parent is receiving the care they need.

Preparing to Talk to Your Parent

Talking to a parent about assisted living will be more productive if you come to the conversation prepared.

List Your Concerns
You may find it helpful to list the concerns you have about your parents’ wellbeing at home. Include any complaints or frustrations that your parent has mentioned in the past. For example, they may have stated how difficult it is to perform everyday tasks, such as laundry or dishes. List the ways that an assisted living community could help with these concerns.

Do Some Homework
It may also be helpful to research assisted living locations that might appeal to your parent ahead of time. For some parents, choosing an assisted living facility can seem very overwhelming. You can help relieve some of that stress by coming prepared with options for them to consider.

Prepare Your Emotions
You also need to prepare yourself emotionally for this conversation. Depending on your parent’s viewpoint, it may be a difficult discussion to have.

Your parent may view this change as giving up their freedom. They may not want to leave the family house. It may be scary for them to accept their degrading health.

You may also feel emotional or even guilty about bringing this up with your parent. While it may be difficult, if your parent is struggling to maintain their home and their health, it is often the right thing to do.

You bringing it up comes from a place of love for your parents, and they’ll see that when you approach the topic respectfully.

Talking to Your Parent

When it comes time to talk to your parent about assisted living, there are several things you can do to make the conversation easier.

Talk in Person
Never discuss moving to assisted living over the phone. This discussion may be emotionally charged and is incredibly personal. Talking over the phone will only make the situation more difficult.

Address their Concerns
Ask your parent if they have had any concerns about their current lifestyle. They could be nervous about the same issues that you are regarding their current situation at home. Discuss how an assisted living facility could address those issues.

Remain Positive
Always remain optimistic. Be empathetic to the worries that your parent has, but not overly sympathetic. Show you care without pitying them.

Consider Your Words
Some parents may react negatively to the phrases “assisted living” or “nursing home.” Try referring to them by their more modern names of “senior living, “life plan community,” or “retirement-style living” instead. This type of language is often perceived as more positive and focused the freedom that your parent will gain from the move (which they will!).

Involve Others
It may be helpful to have siblings or other family members involved in the conversation. However, only involve those who are closely involved in your parent’s life. You do not want your parent to feel like they are being pressured.

If your parents have a doctor they know and trust, it may be possible to involve them in the decision-making process as well. Their doctor can discuss how an assisted living community could help care for specific medical concerns your parent may have.

Avoid Information Overload
Understand that it will probably take multiple conversations to come to a decision. Don’t try to push every talking point into one discussion.

If your parent becomes overwhelmed, they may become more resistant or just agree to move in order to end the conversation. It may be hard to bring up the topic again later if they had a negative view of the first conversation.

Break up your talk into multiple discussions. This will take time. Therefore, it is important that you start having these conversations early, before moving to assisted living becomes urgent. You need time to weigh every option and decision with care.

After the Conversation

After your initial conversation, the process isn’t over. It often takes several conversations and tours of assisted living facilities to come to a decision that everyone is comfortable with. Remember that this is their move.

Keep Your Parent Involved
Keep your parent involved in the process of choosing an assisted living facility. Make sure that all their worries are addressed through the tours and meetings, regardless of how small. Find a facility that both meets their needs and makes them comfortable.

Continue the Conversation
Many decisions need to be made when a parent moves to an assisted living community. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your parent. Encourage your them to come to you with any of their concerns during this process. Keep asking questions about how they are feeling, what their worries are, and work toward finding a solution that works best for them.