Assisted Living

9/16/2022 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Adult children of aging parents can be hesitant to have “the talk” with their parents, discussing senior communities and assisted living options. Whether the need to move is urgent or simply somewhere down the line, the discussion is important. Here are some helpful tips.

If your aging parents are living on their own but you worry about their safety, you might have considered suggesting a move to an assisted living community. Perhaps you’re concerned about their declining health, the risk of falls, no nearby family members, or problems managing the activities of daily living (ADLs), such as cooking, cleaning, personal hygiene, and moving about.

Yet, even though you may believe they’d be better off in a senior community, you may hesitate to raise the subject. Perhaps your parents have a strong wish to age in place or have expressed strong opinions against assisted living options.

Unfortunately, if you avoid discussing the choices with your parents, a crisis might force the issue – like a serious fall, a kitchen fire, and so forth. If you and your parents find yourself in need of a facility right away, your options may be limited.

There’s a better scenario!

Discuss the idea in advance, be armed with the positives of such a move, and take your time finding the best fit for your parents! If there’s a wait list, their names will be on it!

Suggestions on discussing assisted living options.

1. Research the choices before talking to your parents.

Become familiar with the various types of senior living settings and the amount of care each one offers. Senior housing, terminology, and costs often differ from state to state, so research the state where your parents want to live. Also note if the community has different levels of care, from independent living to skilled nursing facilities.

2. Look for an opportunity to start the conversation.

If a parent complains about the difficulty of completing routine tasks or recovering from an injury, plant the seeds. Explain how assisted living could provide help with challenging tasks and prevent future injuries. Let them know that you are merely looking to start a discussion and that no decision needs to be made immediately.

3. Be careful in choosing your words.

Talk about assisted living as a “community” rather than a “facility.” And “retirement-style living” sounds much more appealing than “nursing home.” Stay positive and calm. Avoid a threatening or condescending tone. Remember, these are your parents, adults with their own life experiences and preferences.

4. Let your siblings be involved, too.

Solicit your siblings’ opinions on assisted living options – and even other options, such as aging in place – before you talk to your parents. You might want to speak to your parents alone at first (rather than in an apparent family “intervention,” which could make them feel defensive). If the need becomes more urgent, a group meeting or elder mediation facilitator might be in order.

Related: Managing family conflicts over elderly parents

5. Visit some assisted living facilities with your parents.

two men laughing in nursing home. Photo by Monkey Business Images, Dreamstime. Whether the need is urgent or not, discussing assisted living options and communities with aging parents is important. These tips can help.

Senior living facilities are happy to help assess your parents’ needs. A tour of the facility could help ease some of their concerns, as they see the environment, rooms, activities, meals, etc. A tour also makes them feel that they are part of the decision-making process.

6. Find out what they will miss about home, and try to assuage their concerns.

What do they fear about each of the assisted living options? Do they worry they might not see you or their grandchildren as often as they had? Their friends? Do they fear having to give up all of their favorite possessions or a beloved pet?

Now consider how you can ease their worries. Promise that you’ll continue the same get-together traditions. Find out if there’s a shuttle that can take them to the church or community center where they’ve been seeing their friends. Determine how many individual possessions they can take with them. Many communities allow small pets, but if the community you’re considering doesn’t, assure them you’ll find the right home.

7. Understand the finances of the decision.

Your parents may be assuming that assisted living is too expensive and will quickly deplete their savings. By reviewing everything that comes in a community package – and what they must pay separately – they will have a more accurate picture of the financial aspect of assisted living and are more likely to move ahead confidently. A financial consultant could help out, too.

Even though these tips will help you talk to your parents about assisted living options with more confidence, the discussion will never be easy. Stay positive, and assure your parents that you’re having this conversation because you love them.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.