The Talk: How to Discuss Assisted Living With Elderly Relatives

Senior woman sat on the couch talking to her daughter

After years of your parents parenting you, there may come a day when you need to parent them back. At some point, you may realize that an elderly parent or relative could benefit from a little additional assistance. Discussions about assisted living aren’t always easy, but they can save lives.

Let’s explore how families can have “the talk” with elderly loved ones about transitioning into assisted living.

Having “The Talk” With Elderly Parents and Loved Ones

Time brings change, and these changes often impact our families. As children, our parents talk to us about the world and help us to be independent. Then, as adults, we often end up having similar discussions with our senior parents when they grow older.

Figuring out how to talk to elderly parents about assisted living can be a little uncomfortable, but it is important. At some point, your parents may need to transition from living independently into assisted living. This can be a big change. Thankfully, it is also a very good change—especially with support from the family.

It may come as a surprise, but assisted living for elderly parents can actually help them to maintain their independence longer and more comfortably.

How to Talk to Elderly Parents and Relatives About Assisted Living

These family discussions are deeply personal, and you should always make decisions that feel right for your family. When deciding how to talk with elderly parents about assisted living, it helps to start with a few general considerations.

Know Your Audience

The most important step to take before discussing assisted living with elderly parents is to truly consider your audience. Assisted living is often a very sensitive subject for seniors, and not everyone will be happy to hear it come up. These talks can be difficult, especially for fiercely independent seniors who are eager to maintain their independence.

Having the answers to these questions can help you to start the discussion with the right tone:
● How comfortable do you expect them to be with the topic?
● What do you expect them to feel when you bring assisted living up?
● Have you discussed the topic before? What was their response?
● Is there anything that should be avoided during the discussion? (sore subjects, a loss, etc.)
● Can any steps be taken to keep everyone comfortable with the discussion?
● What can you do to make them feel supported throughout the change?

Senior man sitting down and talking to his son

Expect Emotions to Vary

Difficult discussions are always painful, but they are much harder for those who will be impacted the most. In this case, that means your elderly parent or loved one is more likely to feel sensitive about the topic. It is essential to keep this in mind and to aim to be as empathetic as possible.

Remember that everyone is different. Some independent seniors feel that assisted living is a natural part of life. Others see assisted living as something wrong or to be avoided at all costs.

During discussions about assisted living elderly relatives may feel their competency is being called into question or they may even be afraid of the change. Prepare for some emotions, and do your best to keep the discussion honest, supportive, and kind.

Pick the Right Time

As they often say, timing is everything. There are right and wrong times to have this discussion, but the primary timing consideration should be focused on the elderly relative and their well-being.

Have this discussion sooner rather than later—it makes it much easier when you all have time to prepare.

If your family has been concerned about elderly parents or senior relatives, it’s time to have those talks. Assisted living should be on the radar before the individual starts to experience a decline in their comfort and well-being. Living alone can even be dangerous for seniors if too much time passes.

Have the Discussion in Private

The timing must be right, but the location matters too. Since these topics can be challenging, it is always best to have them in private. If possible, have the discussion at the elderly parent’s house so they can have their own private time at home where they can consider everything. It is also important to avoid choosing a location that may make them feel trapped in the discussion.

Talk Through Their Fears

There are some rumors and fears that come up when discussing assisted living. For example, quite a few seniors fear that moving into assisted living means that their family is moving on without them in some way. As their loved ones, it is up to you to support them through the temporary discomfort of the transition until they feel comfortable.

Other fears to talk through include:
● The idea that assisted living means they won’t have any independence
● The thought that they will be forgotten
● The fear that they will be stuck at home and not free to live their lives

The reality is that assisted living can support various levels of independence, and it can come with a lot of freedom. Many seniors greatly benefit from assisted living and gain access to more resources than they would have while living independently.

Make Them Feel Supported

Whether it’s walking into kindergarten for the first time or moving out of your hometown, big changes are always intimidating. Entering into assisted living is often one of the last big changes that seniors embrace, and it is natural for them to feel a little uncomfortable with it. Having the support of family and friends can really ease this transition–even from afar. Help them through each new step.

Senior woman surrounded by family sitting outside

Do Research

When people picture assisted living, more often than not, they’re imagining a nursing home. Although nursing homes are one part, the reality is that most seniors continue to live their happy, independent lives—just with a little more support.

Before having this discussion with your elderly loved one, take time to learn about assisted living residences and services. There are so many options, and it can be helpful to share them with your elderly parent or loved one. Education can calm quite a few fears, especially when you start to share some of the benefits, like fitness classes, rideshare services, weekly activities, and social opportunities.

Listen to Their Preferences

An elderly relative entering into assisted living impacts the entire family. However, you have to remember that this decision revolves around them. The best way to be supportive during this time is to listen to their preferences and try to find a good match if possible. Senior voices must be heard. Being heard can help them enjoy their new home sooner!

Find Ways to Stay Connected After They Move

After the senior in your life has finished their move, maintaining a strong connection is very important. This can impact how well they settle in, and it can ease the transition for the rest of the family too. Staying connected keeps you informed, whether you schedule a video call with the whole family or use a daily check-in service.

Find simple ways that let you check in with your loved one every day. You may be surprised by how many updates they have to share from their adventures in the new community!

Support Elderly Relatives Through Every Stage of Their Independence

Assisted living gives the elderly the opportunity to support their health and well-being without giving up all of their independence. These communities can come with all kinds of perks and events that make them a wonderful lifestyle shift for aging seniors.

Whether you’re trying to stay in contact with a senior who is currently living alone or you want to keep in touch with a loved one in assisted living, CheckinBee can help. Our daily check-in services let you know that the senior in your life is thriving no matter how many times they change their address!

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