Initiating a conversation about moving to an assisted living community is rarely easy. People often put the discussion off longer than they should because they fear upsetting their loved one. That sometimes means families haven’t talked about senior care options when an accident or serious illness occurs.
Talking to a friend or family member under these conditions can make the process even more stressful. When tensions are high, arguments are more likely. Sometimes, these disagreements permanently damage relationships.
Another concern about waiting until an emergency happens to talk about assisted living is having less time to make the decision. It’s too important to rush.
To avoid the potential consequences of waiting, here are a few tips you can use to start the conversation about assisted living with a neighbor, friend, or family member.
4 Tips for Discussing Assisted Living with a Senior
1. Spend time researching first.
Before you initiate a conversation about assisted living with a friend or family member, take time to learn more about senior care and your local options. The discussion will be more productive if you can act as an informed advocate and resource.
It might help to tour an assisted living community or two so you better understand the features and benefits.
2. Approach the discussion with empathy and kindness.
Suggesting an older adult consider moving to assisted living can be a sensitive issue. The senior might view your advice as a criticism about their ability to manage their life.
Remind yourself of some emotional issues this conversation can create:
- Selling a home they may have raised a family in
- Worries about losing privacy and independence
- Admitting they need a little help
- Concerns about finances and how to pay
Taking time to listen to the older adult’s fears and not forcing your opinion on them is important.
3. Accept this won’t be a single conversation.
Packing up a home and moving to an assisted living community is a big change. It’s unlikely the senior will agree to move based on a single conversation. Before you start the discussion, recognize and accept this will be a process with a series of conversations.
That’s why it is important to bring the topic up early in small, subtle ways. For example, you might inquire about a friend of the senior who has moved to assisted living. You could also drive by an assisted living community on your way to the mall or grocery store with the older adult. It would give you an opportunity to mention an event you saw advertised there or a member of your church who works there.
4. Protect your relationship with the senior.
Despite thoughtful planning, the conversation might not go as hoped. If the discussion becomes hostile, you may need to step back. Unless the senior is in the midst of a crisis, it might be best to wait a few weeks before bringing the topic up again.
You may also need to accept that you aren’t the right person to convince the older adult their safety and well-being are at risk unless they move. It might be better coming from their physician or another friend or family member.
Finally, if you aren’t sure what type of care your older loved one might need, the Sunrise Care Questionnaire can be useful. It will walk you through a series of questions and make a care recommendation based on your answers.