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Help Aging Parents by Talking About Retirement Living

Help Aging Parents by Talking About Retirement Living

Children see their parents as pillars of strength, but when their parents age and see them "growing old," children might begin to worry about how to take care of them. Even with the best of intentions, children may not be equipped to provide the support and care their parents need in their golden years. In these situations, encouraging aging parents to move into a senior living facility is likely the best course of action. However, that conversation and life transition is never an easy one. 

When to Start the Conversation

Ideally, the conversation about moving into a retirement home/community is best started when parents are still at an age they can actively engage in the discussion. Much like estate planning, decisions about future planning should be addressed before the problems of aging set in. Candid and open discussions with adult children pave the way towards a clearer understanding for both sides and prepare both for transitions when they occur. Parents or grandparents may suddenly become too ill or incapacitated to decide for themselves, leading to greater problems.

However, even if the issue of retirement housing/assisted living has not been discussed until later in life, there are ways to bring them up tactfully. 

Start the Conversation Early When Parents Can Still Actively Participate

How to Address the Topic

If you are afraid to broach the topic directly, start by suggesting some information you have gleaned from friends or neighbors about independent living communities. You know your parents best and know how receptive or not they are. You do not want them to feel you are absolving yourself of the responsibility of caring for them.

Ask them if they would like to see or read about senior living communities where they can have a quality life with people from their own cultural ethnicity. Find out about good retirement communities and share that information, assuring your parents that they represent freedom from the chores of home maintenance, and an opportunity for plenty of socialization. Show them the benefits to familiarize them with the idea, and ask if they would like to give a short stay a try - with no obligation.

Talking Points for the Conversation

It's important to address the constraints they might face from day to day to decide for themselves whether a bit of help may alleviate their anxieties, such as:

  1. Do they find it difficult to climb stairs? Are they afraid of falling?
  2. Do they remember to take their medications or do they need reminders?
  3. If there is an emergency, such as storms and power failure, would they know what to do?
  4. How do they meet their medical needs, travel to doctors and fill prescriptions?
  5. Are they able to shop and meet their food requirements? 

If you have additional fears about their individual situation, talk about those. Once you get talking, allow for an equal exchange of ideas and explore them together. Chances are, they will see your love and concern through this conversation. 

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