Helping Your Senior Parent Move to Assisted Care: 4 Tips to Start the Conversation

One of the most difficult conversations that most people will ever have with their parents is suggesting that they move to assisted living and sell the family home. Although some individuals come to this conclusion and decision on their own, others will need the intervention of a trusted loved one. If you have noticed obvious signs that the move to assisted care is becoming necessary — such as significant memory problems, frequent falls, and other health issues — an uncomfortable conversation is well worth protecting your mom and/or dad.

To have a conversation that prompts your parent(s) to move to assisted living, here are four effective strategies that you can use.

Approach the topic with the utmost sensitivity

Before initiating this conversation, it is critical to check your perspectives and emotions on this issue. Chances are that you’ll be feeling a mix of sadness and anxiety surrounding the decline you’ve witnessed in your parent over the last few months or years. Your parent will also be feeling a mix of emotions about their own health, and the thought of losing their independence. It is important to recognize that, if left to run wild, these emotions can cause your conversation to quickly spiral out of control. 

To prevent this from happening, approach the topic with the utmost sensitivity. First, work to address your own emotions prior to speaking with your parent (either by talking with a trusted friend or a therapist). Then, consider all of the reactions and emotions that your parent may show upon suggesting that they move to an assisted living community. This advanced preparation will place you in the best mindset possible.

Choose several fact-based reasons for recommending the move

Because emotions will run high, sticking with the facts is an effective way to keep the conversation stable. When you choose one to three fact-based reasons for recommending the move to assisted living, your argument will be much more compelling. This can also prevent you from discussing opinions, which are subjective and easily debatable.

For example, instead of saying “I just think you’d be much safer if you lived in a place where someone could watch over you,” you should say, “Your doctor said that your heart condition needs daily monitoring by a health professional, which is something that can be achieved by living in an assisted care facility.” 

Be ready to calmly face an emotional reaction

Although you’ve prepared yourself emotionally for the conversation, your loved one will not have had this same opportunity. Enter into the conversation with this in mind so that you set the right expectations. Since you likely know your parent better than most people, you can get ready for the reaction they are most likely to have. 

Even individuals who are often calm and relatively easygoing can have an emotional outburst. If your parent is suffering from a degenerative cognitive disease, their reaction may be further exacerbated because of their condition. Know that this reaction is not about you, but rather about the challenging situation.

Present options for paying for care

Another objection you may face is finances. If your loved one doesn’t know much about the options for paying for assisted care, they may think that they cannot afford this living option.

Your first step is assessing and touring local senior living sites together to see which skilled care communities seem like a good fit. Once you take a few tours and have an idea about pricing, you can work your way down from there. 

When a price is floated, you’ll have an easier time determining how your parent can pay for their care. They may have retirement savings that can cover these costs, or assets they can sell to free up cash. Note, Medicare does not cover the costs of long-term care. 

If your parent cannot pay cash for their assisted living arrangement, present the option of using the proceeds from the sale of their home to cover costs. At this stage of life, most seniors have already paid off their homes and can make several hundred thousand dollars by selling. This can pay for years of quality care at an outstanding facility.

To make the home-selling process easier for your parent, connect with a seasoned real estate professional from HomeSmart Realty Group. Working with an agent steeped in the community can provide a measure of comfort. Plus, your loved one can feel confident they have someone working in their best interest to get the best price for their home. 

When the time comes to move, explore moving companies with strong reputations to make the process as efficient and stress-free as possible. Search for “local movers near me” and read up on customer feedback and testimonials. 

Helping a loved one transition to assisted living is never an easy task. Using the tips above can help you have the easiest possible conversations with your parent, and help you demonstrate true love and active listening. 

Written by Claire Wentz