Most seniors would rather age in place than relocate to a senior living community, but that’s not always a realistic option. As we age, physical and mental impairments make it harder to care for ourselves, let alone a house, and the need for assistance becomes undeniable.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t or won’t try to deny it. Fear of the unknown, of losing our independence, of leaving the place we call home – it’s a powerful thing. Many seniors become stubborn, indignant, and simply refuse to consider assisted living, despite the many warning signs and desperate pleas from adult children and other family members.
So, what can you do if your aging parent is refusing to move? Be patient, be sensitive, be positive, and ask questions that allow your loved one to reflect on their situation and arrive at the decision on their own.
How to Talk to Your Aging Parents about Senior Living
It’s important to acknowledge that this isn’t a conversation that will be resolved in one sitting. Be prepared to bring up your concerns numerous times, while also being careful not to push, nag or criticize. Issuing ultimatums or telling your parents that they can’t take care of themselves, will only make them defensive. Be patient and empathetic. Validate their emotions and use “I” statements, like, “I’m concerned that you’ve lost weight, and I’m worried that you may not be eating enough.”
It’s also important to be positive when bringing up senior living as an alternative to aging in place. Refer to assisted living as a “community” rather than a facility, and “condo-style living” instead of rooms. Focus on the amenities and activities, or social connections and delicious chef-prepared meals, rather than doctors and memory care.
You can find more tips for keeping the peace during a difficult conversation in our blog post How to Have “The Talk” with Your Parents
Key Questions to Ask Elderly Parents
Even if you’re being patient, sensitive and positive, it can be hard to open the lines of communication when an aging parent is being downright stubborn. The key is to ask non-threatening, open-ended questions that elicit a conversation.
Here are some sample questions:
- What is most important to you in life?
- What do you enjoy doing with your day?
- How would you like your life to be different from what it is today?
- How are things working for you in your house?
- What do you imagine life would be like if you stayed in your house another year or two?
- Would you be able to achieve what you want in life by staying in your house?
- What do you like about being in your house?
- What would you be giving up by moving to a senior living community?
- What would you gain by moving to a senior living community?
- Do you ever feel lonely or bored living alone?
- Do you worry about falling or having a health crisis and no one being there to help?
- How do you think your life would be different if you didn’t have to deal with your health challenges by yourself?
Keep the Conversation Going
By using patience, compassion, and open-ended questions, it’s easier to keep the conversation going. You’ll show your parents that you’re coming from a place of love and care, while allowing them to have autonomy over their decisions. This approach allows seniors to reflect on their situation and conclude on their own that an assisted living community really is in their best interest.
To learn more about our independent senior living, enriched housing, assisted living and memory care communities near Albany, Saratoga and Glens Falls NY, call 518-280-8385 or request additional information online.