When it comes to talking to mom or dad about senior living, only a few things are certain. 1. You’re coming to the conversation out of love. 2. You want everyone to feel safe and comfortable. 3. You’re concerned you’ll say the wrong thing or your parent will misinterpret your intentions. There’s no way to guarantee the conversation will be simple or that you won’t have it more than once. But you can help to guarantee a smooth conversation if you think through what you want to say and how you want to say it.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of common topics and suggestions on how to present your thoughts.
Say this: You can spend more time doing things you enjoy.
Not this: You won’t have to feel overwhelmed by cooking and cleaning anymore.
Frame senior living as a benefit rather than a solution to a challenge. Sure, your parent might be struggling to keep up with the housework, but there’s a chance he or she could feel judged or criticized if the topic is introduced as an area in which he or she is failing. Instead, appeal to a sense of convenience and ease.
“You’ll still have plenty of room to host friends for a card game or book club, but you won’t have to spend so much time cleaning before and after.”
Say this: You’ll love the sense of community and support.
Not this: I think it will be the best thing for you.
Most of us don’t like being told what’s best for us, or what we have to do or should do. And older adults certainly don’t want to be parented by their own children. Mom or dad will know what you’re saying is only out of concern, but even that logic won’t make them more receptive to an idea that’s presented as a mandate. Instead of focusing on why you think your parent should make a change, focus on why senior living will appeal to them.
“You’ve always said you want to spend more time on creative projects, at a senior living community you’ll have a lot of opportunities to explore new hobbies and interests.”
Say this: What’s most important to you in your next home?
Not this: I found a place I want you to look at.
Of the people in this conversation, you’re the one who won’t be moving, so avoid “I” statements and making the conversation about what you want. Ask your parents about their wants, needs and concerns. Listen and discuss those feelings before you introduce a specific senior living community. Once everyone is on the same page, find a gentle way to introduce the location you have in mind.
“This community sounds like a good fit for your wish list. Maybe we can go for a visit and see if you like it?”
Remember, moving into senior living is a big decision for mom and dad. You likely won’t reach a decision after one or even two conversations. Be open, present, patient and ready to help however you can. In time, you’ll find a solution that appeals to everyone.
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