How To Talk to elderly parents about assisted living

At some point it may be time to talk to your parents about assisted living. It is never an easy discussion and they may avoid the topic altogether. Elderly people may think a move to senior living threatens their independence.

You can encourage a discussion by informing them that it can actually improve their independence by an increase in their social life and assistance with their daily activities.

It is important not to put this conversation off for too long. At any time an accident or medical issue can suddenly occur requiring assisted living or long term care. You may end up under a lot of pressure researching various facilities that are suitable for your parents. If you do your research early it can help to remove some anxiety and uncertainty and make the conversation much easier to have.

Let’s now have a look at ways to help get the conversation started.


Research Elder Housing Options

Before having the discussion, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the different types of senior living. Levels of care, housing options and characteristics can vary widely so be sure to have them laid out with details for each residence.

Costs can varely widely so it’s a good idea to learn about your parents’ financial situation and if they have long-term care insurance. For example, do they have veterans benefits to help pay for the accommodations? Having solid information will make the discuss much easier for everyone involved. Emphasize the need to know their finances so you can research the proper housing options for them.


Keep Seniors Involved

Regardless of anyone’s age, everyone wants to be involved in where they live. This applies to the elderly as well as the middle-aged and young people. If it’s possible, bring your loved ones along on tours of the senior living accommodations. Involve your parents in discussions with the the residents who are already living there so they can start to feel comfortable about their decision. Ask the residents about the activities they are involved in, the amenities and social opportunities.

While visiting the housing options, describe them as community living rather than facilities. Instead of ‘rooms’, reference condo-style living’. Point out they will have more free time to enjoy activities and socializing instead of taking care of housekeeping, laundry and meals.



Research Progression of Illness


If your parent is dealing with a medical condition such as Parkinson’s, dementia or heart failure, research how it progresses and how it will impact their ability to live at home. It’s wise to discuss with their doctor what lies ahead with these isssues and how you should prepare. Perhaps someone can come to their home for the immediate future so they can live at home as long as possible. This research will help guide you when deciding when and where they need to live. Choose a facility that will meet their immediate as well as their future needs so they don’t have to move multiple times.


Ask Open Ended Questions

When you ask your loved ones open-ended questions, it causes them to think about their situation and open up more to you. Here are some examples of questions to ask:

  • Do you feel safe living at home?
  • Do you have problems with climbing stairs or bathing etc?
  • Are you lonely and would like more company?
  • Are you struggling with the housework?
  • Do you have difficulties paying bills, going to the bank?
  • Are you nervous driving or getting around on public transit?

Senior Housing Options

Here is a list of some housing options to familiarize yourselves with:

  • Home Care Services – In-home care can help your loved ones with daily activities such as companionship or cooking and cleaning.
  • Senior Housing – Senior housing is targeted towards seniors usually for ages 55 and up. They consists of condos or apartments and are suitable for those who can live independently. Social activities and transportation may be provided but usually personal care and meals are not.
  • Independent Living Community – These communities are for active and independent seniors while providing maintenance free accommodations. 24 hour security, a pool and/or community center may be included.
  • Assisted Living – Assisted living facilities are for seniors who don’t need medical care but require help with activities such as meals, cleaning, laundry and medication management. They may also provide bathing assistance and dressing.
  • Nursing Home – Nursing homes provide full medical care and assistance with daily activities such as bathing, eating and dressing. Usually you will need a doctor’s referral to be admitted into these homes.
  • Alzheimer’s/Memory Care – A memory care facility is suited for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. These have dedicated units specific to these diseases. They provide 24 hour nursing care, security, therapy and activities.

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