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How To Talk to Your Aging Parents About Senior Living

Nov 23, 2022|Senior Living

elderly woman and daughter talking

While assisting your aging parents can be rewarding at times, it often requires family members more time and energy than adult children have to give and can leave you feeling burned out. You may be considering their future and what it entails, but when is the right time to start this discussion?

Some of the most important conversations we need to have with aging loved ones are often the hardest ones. And talking to your aging parents about senior living options qualifies as one of these. In fact, many people often avoid having this conversation until a medical emergency or diagnosis occurs, and you or your parents are forced to make an abrupt decision. In order to secure a better future, it is best to have these difficult conversations now, before crisis hits.

Why Your Parents Should Consider Senior Living

Speaking with aging loved ones about a move to an independent senior living community can cause feelings of guilt. But even if they don’t realize it at first, moving out of their home and into a vibrant, independent senior living community is often the best option. 

Research consistently shows that seniors who transition to senior living communities out of the care of family caregivers are happier, have an increased sense of well-being and may even live longer. Residing in a senior living community combats feelings of loneliness and provides seniors an array of opportunities to socialize. This helps prevent the isolation and anxiety so many seniors feel as they adjust to retirement.

At Hawthorn Senior Living, older adults can enjoy an engaging lifestyle that includes personalized amenities and five-star services that encourage multidimensional wellness. Independent living at Hawthorn brings a new perspective to senior living, and it is where active seniors searching for an all-inclusive, stress-free lifestyle can thrive. Hawthorn also provides benefits that offer a fulfilling retirement with opportunities to enjoy hobbies, pursue new passions and embrace a healthy lifestyle, as well as a place to call home.

Still, it is crucial to remember that your elderly parents are confronted with downsizing a lifetime’s worth of possessions and are saying goodbye to their home of many years and a life they knew, living alone. You want your parents to enjoy the lifestyle they’ve worked hard to achieve, but you may not know how to talk to them their future and senior living. Here are five helpful tips to get the conversation started.

How To Talk to Aging Parents About Their Future

  1. Prepare for the talk.

It’s important to think of this as a series of open discussions about understanding the other person’s future, not just one talk about senior living. As you start the discussion of senior living planning, make sure to:

  • Write down talking points. Jotting down your thoughts about why you believe it’s time for senior living can guide the discussion and help you remember important questions.
  • Soften your language. Remember to try not to use phrases like, “you have to” or “you need to.” Instead, express your concerns truthfully and explain why you feel the need to start this discussion.

What not to do:

  • Dictate a plan. To create an ongoing, honest discussion about their future, your loved ones should be included in all aspects of the process.
  • Parent your parents. Share your concerns, but be sure your parents feel respected and heard.
  • Feed the fear. Guide the conversation around common fears, but in a way that gets you working together to help them live their best life, not scaring them into moving.
  • Recognize the risk of waiting.

Your parents may not need any assistance with their daily lives right now, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from senior living. Though you may be uncomfortable or worried about their reaction, the sooner you start the discussion, the better.

An easy place to start is encouraging your parents to make a decision when they have the power to determine their future on their own and enjoy all the amenities a senior living community offers. This way you have more time to understand their wishes, evaluate options and decide together on the best plan going forward. 

  • Start the conversation with a suggestion.

Unless your parents’ current living situation poses a threat to their safety, start by discussing their goals and needs for an ideal retirement. Listen carefully to their wants and needs, but offer simple truths when needed. Suggest that an independent senior living community would allow them to achieve their retirement goals.

Your parents deserve to have a retirement experience that reflects their lifelong efforts; emphasize this during the discussion.  

  • Address common misconceptions.

The common misconception is that senior living communities are for older adults who need continuous care, but for most, that is simply not the case. For older adults who want to enjoy a retirement lifestyle where they can pursue their interests without the burden of household chores and maintenance, independent living is the right fit.

Try sharing stories with your parents about friends whose parents have recently moved into a senior living community and are thriving. Educating them about the realities of senior living may help to beat the stigma senior living had when they were younger.

The best way to combat commons misconceptions about moving to an independent living community is to take tours and ask plenty of questions. Independent senior living communities aren’t “one size fits all.”

There’s so much to consider, from dining to services and amenities to pricing and everything in between. This means it’s essential to learn as much as you can about any independent living community you’re considering. Community tours are the perfect way to do this.

  • Help them understand the benefits.

As you are helping your parents understand why they need senior living, make sure to let them know what they have to look forward to in choosing senior living, such as:

  • An environment that fosters independence. They may feel more even more independent than they do at home, with the right opportunities to help them live life to its fullest. 
  • A worry-free lifestyle. Most senior living communities, like Hawthorn communities, offer restaurant-style dining, housekeeping and laundry and transportation services, along with spacious accommodations and amenities such as pools and fitness centers.
  • Abundant social opportunities. There are also opportunities to stay mentally and physically fit with monthly calendars filled with clubs, classes, events and outings.
  • Making their space their own. Senior living doesn’t mean they have to forgo their style and personality. Whether their passion is favorite photos, knickknacks, books or an entire collection of sports memorabilia, residents are encouraged to personalize their space and make it their home.

What If the Talk Doesn’t Work?

If your parents are adamant about not moving and will not even consider senior living, agree to disagree. Then, review your approach. At what point did they start shutting down the discussion? What did you say? Is there someone else you could consult who your parents would be more likely to accept advice from?

Many families seek the assistance of an unbiased third party who can help your loved ones understand the financial or lifestyle benefits of making a move.

At Hawthorn Senior Living, We’re Here To Help

Now that you know how to devise a plan to talk to your parents about their future and senior living, don’t wait until crisis forces the choice to move to a senior living community. Start the conversation about the future with your aging loved ones now, and find a Hawthorn community near you to schedule a tour today.

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