How to Have ‘The Talk’ with Your Senior Parents
By CentraState Health | July 10, 2024 | Categories: Uncategorized

How to Have ‘The Talk’ with Your Senior Parents


Having a discussion with your older parents about moving out of their current home and into a senior living community can be fraught with stress and bad feelings. There are ways that you can handle this conversation with love and care, but it takes planning.

“When you and other family members realize that a senior parent or other loved one would be best living in a senior community, the sooner the better when it comes to bringing up the idea,” says Debbie Yigit, director of hospitality for Monmouth Crossing Assisted Living in Freehold. “Don’t wait until your loved one is in a medical crisis and you must make a decision quickly.”

Make Visits Yourself First

Yigit advises visiting some senior communities first to see what type of home might be best: assisted living, memory care or long-term skilled nursing. If you can, discuss your parent’s medical needs with his or her physician. Lean on friends or family who may have already had these experiences.

“The most common fears your parent has are most likely losing independence, being forgotten, or being a burden on you and your family,” notes Nathalie Shostak-Levy, LPN, of Monmouth Crossing, a part of CentraState Healthcare System. “When you visit communities first, you can find out about services, medical and nursing care activities, meals, security, and other special services so you will be able to share these enthusiastically with your loved one.”

Do Your Homework

Yigit suggests preparing for the conversation with whomever else will be involved, but be careful that you do not appear confrontational. Be ready to offer support, talk honestly and expect that your parent may not be on board right away. Yigit and Shostak-Levy suggest the following ways to prepare and carry out the talk:

  • Plan a casual visit with your parent when you have time. Perhaps talk during a meal, while you are helping with chores, or during a drive.
  • Share stories of their family or friends who might be living in senior communities.
  • Choose warm words: Use “community” instead of “facility”, “apartment” instead of “room.” Do not say “long-term care” or “nursing home.”
  • Listen carefully to what they are afraid of. Be empathetic in imagining what their side of the conversation might be.
  • Emphasize how you want your parent to be safe and well cared for. Let them know they will be able to make many decisions for themselves, such as the way their apartment is set up or what meals they want to eat.
  • If your parent is overwhelmed, plan to talk about the topic during another visit.

Moving Forward

After this conversation and others that may follow, take tours of different communities with your parent. As you visit, point out enjoyable amenities such as the dining room, activities lounge, beauty salon, gardens, and patio. Find out what trips and outside activities might be appropriate for your loved one. Discuss support services with the staff, including medication oversight, memory care facilities, rehabilitation therapy, pet visits, and nutrition advice.

It is also important to discuss financial information with the community’s staff. This discussion may or may not include your parent depending on his or her level of cognition. However, plan to bring your parent into part of a financial discussion with you so there are no misunderstandings.

“We also suggest having your parent stay at the community before committing full-time to a new residence,” says Shostak-Levy. “Monmouth Crossing offers potential new residents the ability to stay for up to one month to see if they like the place, sort of like a test drive.”

Most importantly, says Yigit, stress how the new residence will be their home and that they will meet new friends and enjoy an enhanced type of independence.

“Once many of our residents realize they don’t have the worries of remembering to take their medications, cooking their meals, and cleaning their apartments, they find a new lightness in their lives,” she says.

Let’s chat! And don’t forget to ask about our special offer and trial stays. 

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