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News & Updates

Heart-to-Heart: Four Strategies for Tackling Tough Conversations With Your Parents

February 21, 2024

When is the right time to start talking to a parent about moving out of their home and into a senior living community? When they fall? When they (or you) decide they shouldn’t drive anymore? When they can’t take care of the house?

Don’t count on there being a clear-cut moment that signals when it’s time to talk. These discussions aren’t easy for anyone—especially your parents—but they are important and they do need to happen. And how you approach this conversation can greatly impact the outcome.

Here are four valuable tips to ensure a productive and compassionate dialogue about moving into a senior living community.

Tip 1: Have These Discussions Early … and Often

Initiating conversations about moving out of the family home and into a senior living community early in the process is key. Waiting until a crisis arises can heighten stress levels for both you and your parents. Rather, begin the dialogue when everyone is relatively healthy and able to engage in thoughtful discussions. This ongoing conversation allows for gradual adjustment and better decision-making. Regular check-ins also demonstrate your commitment to understanding your parents' evolving needs and desires.

Tip 2: Be Gentle

Approach the topic with sensitivity and empathy. The idea of moving can be overwhelming, so don’t discount your parents’ feelings around it. Acknowledge that this is a significant life transition and that your parents may have mixed emotions. Choose words carefully to convey your concerns without sounding confrontational. Being gentle in your approach creates a supportive atmosphere where your parents feel heard and respected.

Tip 3: Keep Conversation Focused on Parents’ Needs

When discussing your parents move, it's crucial to keep the conversation centered around your parents' needs and preferences. Avoid making it solely about your concerns or logistical challenges. Ask open-ended questions to understand their feelings, fears and desires. (See below for sample questions.) Encourage them to share their priorities and expectations for their future living arrangements. By focusing on their needs, you create a collaborative environment where the decision feels like a shared endeavor rather than an imposition.

Tip 4: Do Your Homework

Before broaching the subject, invest time in researching senior living options. Be well-informed about the different communities, services offered, and associated costs. Having this knowledge allows you to provide concrete information during the conversation, addressing potential concerns and demonstrating that you've done your due diligence.

During your discussions, take notes to record your parents' input, questions, and any specific preferences they express. This not only helps you remember important details but also shows your commitment to understanding and honoring their wishes.

Navigating this conversation with your parents requires a delicate balance of empathy, preparation, and ongoing communication. Remember, the goal is to ensure your parents' well-being and create a plan that aligns with their wishes for the future. With patience and understanding, this challenging conversation can lead to a smoother transition into a senior living community, fostering a supportive environment for everyone involved.

Open-Ended Questions

It’s hard to know where to begin with this conversation. We’ve pulled together a short list of questions to help you get started …

  • How is it living at your home? What are you struggling with? Would you feel less stress if you didn’t have to worry about the house?
  • Do you have a plan for long-term care? For example, if you fell and couldn’t take care of yourself at home, where would you go? How would you pay for it?
  • Do you ever feel lonely or isolated?
  • If you could be more active, what would you want to do?
  • Ever wonder about getting a helping hand with cooking, housekeeping and laundry?

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