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Tips for Having the Conversation About Shared Senior Living with Your Aging Parent  (1)As a child and teenager, there were probably conversations your parents wanted to have with you that you wanted to avoid at all costs. At the time, you likely never imagined the tables would turn, and one day, you’d be in their position trying to bring up a topic they dread: whether it’s time for shared senior living.  

While it’s not easy for you to see your parent needing help with everyday tasks or for their health to start declining – imagine how they feel! What’s more, the shared senior living conversation makes it more real, and that’s scary, we get it. Honestly, it’s why so many families put it off until they have no choice, which can actually make it even more difficult for everyone involved. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Check out these tips to help make the shared senior living conversation more positive and productive. 

Tips for having the conversation about shared senior living with your older loved one 

Start the shared senior living conversation sooner 

More often than not, the shared senior living conversation begins after a crisis or immediate need to move, making it much harder for everyone as the emotional and stress levels are already high. But if you plan and start the conversation sooner, your parent has more time to process their feelings fully and embrace this new opportunity. Plus, they can be more involved in choosing the shared senior living community, which can also help them feel more comfortable with the decision. 

Plan on more than one conversation 

Although the shared senior living conversation is often referred to as ‘the talk,’ it really should be more of an ongoing discussion. Realistically, whether or not it’s time to move to shared senior living is too big of a decision for one sitting. You certainly don’t want your parent to feel pressured or your family to rush into a decision you regret later! 

Moreover, planning ahead, as we mentioned above, also allows more discussion on the pros and cons of shared senior living. During these conversations, make sure to have patience with your parent. Thinking of yourself in their shoes (as you may well be someday) can help. For example, they likely have common fears about the move, including loss of independence, having to depend on others, being unable to drive, and being isolated and lonely in the new environment. 

Let them know you’re on their side and truly listen to their concerns, fears, and wants for the future to help foster open, honest discussions. And reassure them that you’ll still be just as much of a part of each other’s lives after the move.  

Do your research on shared senior living 

Before you begin these conversations with your parent, make sure you’ve educated yourself on shared senior living so you’re prepared to answer their questions. Shared senior living is much like it sounds, as space is shared with a roommate. This is typically in an assisted living setting, which is a type of senior living that offers support with activities like personal care and medication management as needed. Shared senior living options include the following:  

Shared living in a residential home setting: Consider this a “soft landing” after living at home as there are fewer residents than in a large senior living community. Plus, seniors with physical or cognitive limitations might find a residential setting easier to navigate. Not to mention, it’s very much a home-like setting where residents enjoy familiar daily activities such as getting the mail, going for a walk, and helping with household chores. 

Shared spaces in senior living communities: Companion apartments can often be found in a type of senior living community known as assisted living. A benefit of assisted living is that it’s truly a community with features like a comfortable dining room, common areas for sitting and conversation, planned activities, a theater, library, computer room, fitness or wellness center, hair salons, and on-site staff to offer support as needed. 

Assisted living companion living: This is another senior living option in assisted living that offers semi-private suites, with each resident having their own private bedroom while sharing the bathroom and living room. Residents enjoy all the features mentioned above in an assisted living community as well. 

Create a comfortable setting 

As you prepare to bring up the topic of shared senior living with your parent, keep in mind that it’s not just what you say but also the setting and who’s involved. As such, select a time when you and your parent are free from distractions to allow the conversation to go at its own pace. Also, consider a place where you have privacy but is comfortable for everyone, especially your parent. What’s more, you don’t have to do this alone, nor should you, so make sure to reach out to family members for input and ask them to join the conversations, whether in person or via video chat if necessary. 

Download our Life Is Better When Shared guide.

Communication tips for shared senior living conversations 

As you get closer to the shared senior living conversations, ensure you’ve prepared for what and how you will communicate using these tips: 

  • Plan your talking points. Shared senior living conversations are not something you wing; otherwise, they won’t be as productive. We recommend you write down what you want to get across beforehand. It makes it easier to stay focused, and you won’t forget anything should the conversation become heated or emotional.  
  • Be collaborative. Trying to dictate a plan to your parent will immediately make them defensive. Instead, start by asking questions about their needs and wants for the future. This makes it easier for them to open up to you. Questions during shared senior living conversations may include: 
  • How can we, as a family, support your independence? 
  • Would you prefer having meals prepared instead of having to cook? 
  • How do you feel about driving now? 
  • How often are you able to connect with friends? 
  • Are there any new hobbies you’d like to try or things you’d like to learn? 
  • Do you have enough opportunities to stay active and have fun? 
  • Are the house and yard becoming more than you want to manage? 
  • How comfortable are you with independently managing your personal care and/or medications? 
  • What concerns do you have about the future? 
  • Focus on the benefits. Shared senior living is about much more than the care provided; there are also tremendous benefits. Those benefits include freedom from chores and home maintenance, an active, engaging, and connected lifestyle, conveniences and amenities that make residents feel pampered, a focus on well-being, and the peace of mind that support is always at hand. In discussing the questions above, you likely have a much better understanding of what would appeal to your parent and how a community might help them get more out of life; tailoring the benefits to their answers will go a long way in convincing them to move. 

Have them visit a shared senior living community 

Lastly, we know experiencing things firsthand is always best, so we recommend a tour of a shared senior living community like ours. You could also attend an event and/or have lunch there with your parent. This will allow you both to get a true feel for the environment, talk to residents, and get all your questions answered.   

To learn more about shared senior living, download our Life Is Better When Shared guide today! 

Click here to download our Life is Better Shared guide

Written by All American