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How to Start the Conversation about Assisted Living with a Senior

How to Start the Conversation about Assisted Living with a Senior

Starting the conversation about moving to assisted living with an elder you love can be intimidating. Adult children and other family members often put off talking about assisted living until an emergency occurs. Then they find themselves making this important decision in the midst of a crisis.

The best time to begin talking about and searching for an assisted living community is before your senior loved one needs it. We have a few tips to help you get started.

How to Talk with a Senior About Assisted Living

This isn’t a conversation you can have one time and be done. Go in to this with the understanding that you and your senior loved one will likely need to have a series of talks to figure out what they want and need.

A few tips that can help you get started are:

  1. Mindful language: No one likes to be told what to do at any age, whether they are a toddler, a college age child or an aging parent. Remind yourself to be conscious of the language you use. Avoid phrases that make you seem too bossy, such as “you have to move” or “you need to sell your home.” A better approach is to share the concerns you have for their health and safety. Sometimes citing specific examples, such as a fall where they couldn’t call for help for several hours or a mistake with medication. Make sure they understand you want to work with them and not against them to find a solution. The senior needs to feel empowered and that they are in control.
  2. Subtle conversation starters: Before you begin an official conversation about moving, think about ways you can subtly bring up the topic of assisted living. Has someone you both know recently moved to a senior housing community? Is a new assisted living under construction near you? Is a nearby senior living community hosting a special event that sounds interesting? Introducing the topic in a non-threatening way can help plant a seed with your loved one.

Coping with a Senior’s Resistance to Assisted Living

It’s important to keep in mind that your family member might not be ready or willing to talk about moving. You may meet with a significant amount of resistance, especially if you are too forceful. 

Here are some tips to help you if your senior loved one resists your efforts to talk about assisted living:

  • Be patient: Unless you are in the midst of a crisis that necessitates a rapid decision, be patient. The more you push, the more your family member is likely to resist. Ease in to the discussion again when you think they might be more receptive.
  • Share your struggles: If you are spending a considerable amount of time running errands and assisting your loved one, be honest with them about the toll it is taking on your life. It might allow them to see things from your perspective. Don’t go overboard on the guilt or do anything to discourage them from calling you in the event of an emergency, but do share your struggle to manage all your responsibilities.
  • Encourage them to tour: Your family member might have outdated ideas about what assisted living is and isn’t. Ask them to do you a favor and tour a few communities with no further obligation required. If you pre-screen local communities and create a list of only those you think would be a good fit, you can go back again with your loved one. 

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With over 270 communities in 30 states, Five Star Senior Living is a leading provider of assisted living care. Call the community nearest you to set up a time for your private tour today!

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