How To Jumpstart The Conversation About Senior Living

Talk To Your Parents About A Positive Plan For The Future

Why does it feel so difficult to talk to an aging parent or family member about getting older, plans for the future, needing help and where to live? It doesn’t have to feel that way. Use these tips to open the lines of communication and start having conversations about the future.

  1. Make a list of concerns you have for your parent or family member. For example, you may be worried about their medication management or their physical safety at home. Write down everything that concerns you. Resist the temptation to jump ahead and put together a plan on your own; instead, prepare to guide the conversation with questions that allow them to express their thoughts, concerns and plans.
  2. Find a good time to talk and let them know about your concerns ahead of time. This keeps them from feeling blindsided by a tough conversation and helps them start to think about the kind of help they want or need. Get in touch with siblings and any family members so they are aware of the plan to have a conversation with your parents, even if they cannot be present.
  3. Learn about different options in senior living. As you research, you’ll find a range of options from independent living and in-home care to assisted living and continuing care, all of which include different types of senior care services. Don’t downplay the amount of help your loved one actually needs – it would be a disservice to move them to a community without the proper care.
  4. Sit down to talk in person, not by telephone if possible, and at a time when you are both well-rested and can talk without interruption. You may choose to go to a neutral site outside of their home or to involve an outside person close to the family, such as an attorney, physician, minister or friend.
  5. Ask questions, choosing words that are clear, supportive, non-confrontational and relating to your concerns for your parent. Be respectful and empathetic and remember to use open body language – no crossed arms or hunched shoulders. Let them know you care about their ideas for their future. Use direct language such as:
    “Where would you want to live if you ever decided you would rather not live by yourself anymore?” “What kinds of things could you use help with?”
    “How can we protect you from taking a bad fall?”
  6. Listen closely to their responses and let them know you are their partner in solving a particular need or issue in their life. Make sure you are hearing their complete answer before offering your opinion or advice. If the conversation gets heated or overly emotional, plan to pick it up at a later time.
  7. Talk again. And again. As much as you’d like to wrap things up in one conversation, this process will involve multiple discussions. Unless you have an emergent health issue or safety risk to address with your parent at home, it’s okay to take the time needed to develop a mutually agreeable plan.

Learn The Next Steps To Take

Having the conversation may not be easy, but it should take place much sooner than you might think. By understanding your parent’s hopes and desires for aging, you’ll be able to better help them navigate through life’s transitions. Contact us if you have additional questions or would like more information about Hamlet at Chagrin Falls.