Starting the Conversation

How to talk to your parents and family members about senior living.

It can be a sensitive topic to raise with parents who are showing signs of aging — moving to senior living. You’re probably thinking about senior living out of concern for your parent’s safety, health or well-being. From your perspective, your worries and workload of helping with errands, banking, groceries and chores will be eased once your parent moves to a retirement residence. But your parent might see only the stress and disruption of change, which can lead to intense emotions. To have a meaningful discussion, start from a place of empathy and use this conversation guide to get tips for talking to aging parents about senior living.

It’s important for adult children to play a supporting role. Remember that seniors have spent a lifetime looking after their own affairs: it will help maintain their sense of dignity to continue to be the primary decision maker.

Be patient. Not all seniors will be immediately warm to the idea of moving. Try to open the conversation by expressing your worries and listening to how they feel about moving. Do they feel safe living alone? Will staying at home another year or two make them happier? Keep the dialogue open, honest and respectful, even if you don’t agree. It can take time, but your parent may come to the decision on her own as she finds she’s no longer feeling secure or her social network starts diminishing. In the end, it’s an adult child’s obligation to respect that it’s ultimately the parent’s choice.

Get the guide for talking to parents about senior living in our conversation guide.