Talking to Aging Parents About Assisted Living: How to Open the Conversation

A father and daughter walking in the park

For an adult child, it can be hard to see your parents getting older. Maybe they’re struggling to keep up with daily tasks, such as grocery shopping, housework or driving. Maybe they’re experiencing new or progressing health concerns or are having issues with their memory. If you feel your parents would benefit from receiving more support than you are able to give them, it may be time to bring up the topic of assisted living.

Having this conversation doesn’t have to be awkward or difficult when approached with compassion. Here are our tips for talking to aging parents about assisted living in a way that makes them feel heard.

(Are you the parent? Click here for our tips on talking to adult children about your retirement plans.)


Choose the Right Time

Talking to aging parents about assisted living isn’t something that will happen all at once. Rather, it may be a series of discussions that take place over time, so do not feel rushed. Wait for the right place and time – a quiet moment when you can talk openly – instead of springing it on them at an unexpected moment.

When you do talk, approach the conversation with empathy and understanding. It can be helpful to recognize that your parents may have concerns or fears about change. They may also feel an emotional attachment to their current living situation.

Remember to listen more than you talk. Show them you are paying attention and validate their feelings throughout the conversation. Be patient if they need time to process the idea of making this change, or if they are hesitant to discuss it.

If you have tried to have multiple conversations without finding any resolution, it’s OK to bring in help. This could be a trusted family member or friend, a social worker or a family therapist. They can act as a mediator to create a more productive discussion.


Respect Their Autonomy

When talking to aging parents about assisted living, it’s important to respect their autonomy. Instead of telling them, “This is what’s best for you,” share your reasons for why you believe it could be beneficial for them. Frame the conversation around their well-being and safety, emphasizing the benefits of assisted living. A few things to highlight could be:

  • Access to healthcare services
  • Social engagement and activities
  • Assistance with daily tasks
  • A supportive environment

While you can make recommendations to your parents, it is ultimately their decision whether to move to assisted living. Respect their right to make choices about their own living situation. You want them to feel empowered and respected – not patronized. Share your opinions, but be mindful to ask for their input, preferences and concerns throughout the conversation.


Be There for Them

Finally, it’s important to assure your parents that you are there for them and will continue to be throughout this transition. They may have concerns about losing independence or feeling isolated. Talk to them about your plans to visit, possible locations that are close to where you live and other plans for staying connected. Consider touring assisted living communities with them or spending an evening researching options together on the internet.

After the initial conversation or decision, continue to offer support and involvement while your parents are adjusting. Just being there for them can mean the world and can show them that you are not abandoning them during this time in their lives.


Explore Assisted Living Options

Sometimes tough conversations are necessary, and if approached in the right way, can end with everyone feeling heard, supported and confident. Talking to aging parents about assisted living is a conversation worth having and can result in them finding an environment that will allow them to thrive.

At Advent Christian Village, we believe it’s important to meet each person where they are and provide the care they need. That’s why assisted living is an important part of the continuum of care we provide. Our skilled team is always helpful, friendly and reliable, so you can trust that we are caring for your family member as you would.

Be confident in the choice you make for assisted living – send us a message today to learn more.

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