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Five tips to help you talk with your parents about senior living

A conversation with your parents about their future health needs may be one of the toughest talks to have as a family. It may also be one of the most helpful in making sure everyone’s needs are met.

The most important question may be where your parents are going to live as their health and their needs change. Start by considering whether your parents want to stay in their home as long as possible or if they’re open to moving to a senior living community.

Studies show that many people 65 and older are concerned about becoming a burden to their adult children so they may be open to having this discussion.

If you feel it’s time to have this conversation, be prepared to discuss some of your concerns. If you’re seeing things that make you believe your parents can no longer complete daily activities and household chores, be ready to talk about that.

Here are some ways to make the conversation more effective:

1. Have the conversation early

It’s best to start talking about a possible move while your parents are still independent and high functioning, even if they don’t do as much as they use to. This way, your parents will be able make their own decisions before a looming or urgent health crisis forces the issue and leaves them with little input.

2. Get ready to get intimate

Be open to discussing sensitive health matters with your parents and how the family would handle increasing demands in their care. Start by asking them some hypothetical questions like “how would you handle an emergency?” and “what would you prefer if you needed daily help or medical care?” The answers can give you an idea on the expectations your parents have for you and the rest of the family.

You may also have to discuss complex financial matters to find out what options your parents have and what they can afford. It’s worth considering whether they can sell their home, or whether they have long-term care insurance or other benefits.

3. Listen!

The idea of a move to a senior living community may make your parents anxious, even scared. They may be against the idea altogether because of misconceptions about what community living means. Listen and ask follow-up questions so you can understand their concerns without judgment.

4. Be prepared for follow-up talks

This is probably a conversation you’ll have more than once – sometimes over months or years. Unless your parents have an urgent need, this is a process. You also want to make sure that you approach every conversation in a way that doesn’t feel like you’re pressuring your parents to make a quick decision.

5. Visit a few communities

If your parents are open to it, it may be worth scheduling a visit to a few communities. They could learn more about the lifestyle and culture which may help calm some of their anxieties. They may also like the amenities or learn about activities they’re interested in.

Remember, this conversation may be tough now, but it may make future decisions easier. It will help both you and your parents as you educate yourselves and explore the options available.

Emporia Presbyterian Manor is here to help guide your family in making the right decision for you and your parents. Contact Andraya Taber at 620-343-2613 or with your questions or to schedule a tour.

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