[Updated: March 14, 2023 | Published: April 29, 2021]
“How can I talk to my parents about their plans for senior living?” is the question we hear most from children of aging parents.
If you’re in what’s called the sandwich generation, juggling a career with raising children and caring for a parent, this can be one of the most important conversations you’ll ever have. Without preparation, it also can be one of the most difficult.
As central Ohio’s premier senior living community for nearly 40 years, we’ve learned the importance of planning in successful moves from a family home to community life.
Here are a few tips from our residency counselors on talking to your parents about plans for their sixties, seventies, eighties and beyond.
1. Start the Conversation Early
Many children hesitate to talk with their parents about moving to a senior living community. Maybe you don’t want to pry into parents’ finances. Or you worry the conversation will trigger fears of mortality or loss of independence.
Yet, the more you know — and the earlier you know it — the better prepared you will be to support your parents while taking care of yourself and your family.
If possible, start talking while your parents are physically and financially healthy. Don’t wait for a crisis to force the issue.
By waiting, your parents could limit their options and risk having someone else decide for them.
Keep the tone light to start. Ask open-ended questions like these:
- Where would you prefer to live if you could no longer stay in your home?
- Are you planning to stay in your home or move to a warmer climate?
- Do you feel lonely sometimes? Would you like to spend more time with people your own age?
- Would you feel less stress if you didn’t have to worry about home maintenance?
After asking your questions, sit back and listen to their answers. Let the conversation develop naturally. Don’t overload them with a lot of information or statistics. This might be the first time they’ve thought about their plans.
2. Listen to Your Loved One
It’s natural for loved ones to express anxieties and reservations about any major life change.
Empathize with their feelings and continue to ask questions so you can understand any objections.
Emphasize that you love and support them, whatever they decide is best for them.
Follow their lead and allow them to explore their wishes and options at their pace.
3. Gather Information on Care Options
To understand what might best suit your parent, learn all you can about senior living communities and home care options in your area.
Some choices might include:
- Staying in the family home, with support from family members or home care staff. An AARP study found that 75 percent of seniors want to stay in their existing homes as long as possible – but less than half think it will be possible. New programs like our innovative Friendship At Home membership plan are making aging in place affordable for seniors. Friendship At Home offers a unique bridge program that allows members to move into an independent living apartment at Friendship Village of Dublin when they decide the time is right.
- Moving in with you or another family member, with or without supplemental home care.
- Moving to an independent living apartment or villa in a LifeCare community like Friendship Village of Dublin. This can be a great option if your loved one yearns for a vibrant senior lifestyle with lots of companionship, activities, and amenities.
- Moving to an assisted living community catering to those who need help with feeding, dressing, managing medication and other activities of daily living.
- Moving to a memory care unit, if your loved one experiences dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
- Moving to a health center or skilled nursing facility works best for those who need rehabilitative or long-term care related to an accident or illness.
As you gather information, keep talking to your parent about what would be best for them. Be open about your ability to help care for them.
You’ll also need to explore resources your parents have to pay for care, including savings, home equity, pensions, long-term care insurance and government programs. They may want to involve the family physician or other caregivers in evaluating options.
4. Involve Your Siblings
Even if you’re the primary caregiver, your siblings will want to be part of the conversation. Let them know you’re talking to your parents about their long-term plans.
Before your parents reach a decision, try to arrange at least one group conversation with everyone in the immediate family. This helps make sure you’ve considered all options, and everyone understands what your parents are thinking.
Then meet again after you’ve explored care options and your parents have made a decision.
5. Settle the Details
Once your parents decide on a direction for the next stage of their lives, it’s time to put a plan in place. This stage may involve:
- Interviewing home care providers
- Taking your parents to visit local senior living communities
- Meeting with residency counselors and financial advisors
- Reviewing and signing contracts
Keep talking to your parents throughout this phase to make sure they are on board with the eventual plan.
Once your parents make a final decision, you may need to help them downsize their possessions and arrange the sale of their home.
Find Life in Perfect Balance for Your Parents
Our Residency counselors can help you and your parents explore our vibrant LifeCare community and other care options within the Friendship Village of Dublin Family of Senior Living services.
You’re invited to schedule an in-person or video visit to learn about all we offer!
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