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Conversation Do’s and Don’ts-min Hero

When it’s time to talk about senior living: What to say, and how to say it.

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If you think it may be time to start discussing senior living options with your family, tread carefully. The idea of moving into an Assisted Living community is a delicate one for most seniors, so, if you decide to broach the subject, be sure to stick to this list of do’s and don’ts. 

Don’t:

1. Let your anger or frustration drive the conversation

Seeing a family member decline, especially mentally, is a frustrating and hurtful thing to watch.  Remember: it’s ok to feel frustrated, but it’s not ok to let your frustration overshadow your concern for your loved one’s wellbeing. 

2. Use ultimatums

Senior living should never be presented as a consequence, so don’t use phrases like “I can’t believe you left the oven on, Dad. You’re not going to be able to live by yourself if you keep this up!” Your job as their family is to help, not scold. 

3. Go into the conversation with your mind made up

If you tell your mom or dad that they are leaving their home and moving into a senior living community, no ifs ands or buts, you’ll most certainly be met with resistance. And, once the seed of discord is sewn, it will be even more difficult to get your mom or dad to agree to go on community tours, start downsizing, or agree on a move-in date. Remember, this conversation is the first step of a potentially long process. Don’t start it on a sour note.

Do:

1. Lead with compassion

The aging process is not always kind. If you’re scared by the changes you see in your mom or dad, imagine how they must feel. Imagine their embarrassment, frustration, and fear of the unknown.  With so many emotions on high alert, a little empathy can go a long way. 

2. Use phrases that showcase your willingness to help

The ultimate goal of the conversation is to help your mom or dad, so be sure to emphasize that over a change in their living situation. Say things like “I notice you don’t have much food in your fridge. Would you like me to take you grocery shopping? What else around the home could you use help with?” 

3. Try your best to listen and understand

It’s absolutely crucial that your loved one feels heard. Framing senior living as a collaborative decision that everyone has a say in will help your mom or dad feel respected, and more willing to have an open dialogue. 

Talking about a move to senior living is never easy, but sticking to these do’s and don’ts will help guide your decision-making process for the better. For more advice on how senior living can help you and your family, visit www.thehearth.net/blog 

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  • Written by Katie Mchale

    Katie is Hearth Management’s Director of Marketing and Communications. She has seven years of experience in the senior living content management space, and has a passion for writing, research, and providing resources for seniors and their families.

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