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Kaplan 6-7-22_How to Make the SL Conversation EasierRegardless of how close you and your parents are or how well you communicate with each other, some conversations are still hard. The senior living conversation is one of them. Many adult children feel so uncomfortable about the subject that they avoid it altogether. That’s why, all too often, decisions about senior living are made during a crisis which can not only limit your options but also cause even more stress during an already emotional time. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Especially with these tips to make the senior living conversation easier.

The Dangers of Delaying the Senior Living Conversation

While initially, it may seem better to wait to have the senior living conversation until your parent can’t deny the need for a move, it can actually create additional challenges and stress such as:

  • Not having the time to truly consider your parent’s needs and wants.
  • Under pressure, you may not be able to fully vet all your options, and/or you may have fewer options available.
  • Instead of you and your parent being in control of the process, decisions are reactionary.
  • If your parent is now unable to take part in the process, they may never feel completely confident in the decision. Or even resentful of it.

Click here to download our Senior Living Options Guide

It’s Really More Than One Senior Living Conversation

The senior living conversation is often referred to as ‘the talk’ but in reality, it shouldn’t be just one conversation. Rather, more of an ongoing discussion because realistically whether or not to move to senior living is too far-reaching and emotional to be decided at one time. This is another reason, in addition to the challenges we mentioned above, to talk to your parent before the need is dire.

One way to do so is to begin talking about the future in a way that shows your parent that you’re on their side and you want to listen, not make decisions for them. A good way to do this is by asking questions about their needs and wants such as:

  • How can we as a family help you stay independent?
  • Do you still feel comfortable managing your medications and doctor’s appointments?
  • Do you still enjoy cooking for yourself?
  • Do you still enjoy driving?
  • How do you feel about managing the house, yard, and day-to-day chores/errands?
  • Do you ever worry about living alone?
  • What safety concerns do you have for the house, if any?
  • Are you able to connect with friends as much as you’d like?
  • Would you like to have more opportunities to stay active and have fun?
  • Are there any new hobbies you’d like to try or things you’d like to learn?

You certainly don’t have to ask them all these questions at once, but by showing empathy and patience as they answer, you may find your parent is relieved to have the opportunity to share how they’re feeling!

Communication Tips for the Senior Living Conversation

As you begin the senior living conversation with your parent, it’s important to be mindful of how you communicate as well, not just in your tone but also in the message you’re trying to get across. Consider these communication tips to help:

  • Create talking points – It’s not ideal to wing these discussions, rather, write down (or at least think about) what you want to say ahead of time. It makes it easier to stay focused and you won’t forget to stay on message should the conversation become heated or emotional.
  • Collaborate, not dictate – The worst thing you can do is dictate a plan to your parent. It will immediately make them defensive. Instead, be honest about your concerns, but in a way that respects them as your parent. To foster open, honest discussions they need to feel heard. It can be helpful to think of yourself in their shoes and imagine what information and approach would make you most receptive to the idea of senior living.
  • Play up the positives – In talking through the questions above you likely have a much better understanding of what would appeal to your parent, and how a senior living community might help them get more out of life. Whether it’s maintenance-free living, a lifestyle that’s convenient, active, and social, amenities that make your parent feel pampered, a focus on healthy aging, peace of mind that support is always at hand, or all of the above, there are plenty of positives for them to look forward to.

Sometimes Seeing is Believing

If your parent is still hesitant about moving to senior living, planning a community tour can help. In addition, sign up to attend events, and/or have lunch with your parent there if possible. This allows you both to get a true feel for the environment, talk to residents, and get all your questions answered. It can often go a long way in convincing your parent to move!

For more information about the different senior living choices available for older adults, download our Senior Living Options Guide today!

Written by All American