Discussing Senior Living Together as a Family

We all handle issues differently. Our personalities lead the way in terms of how we approach various situations. Some are direct, others skirt around the issue. Talking about the need for senior living is no different. For some it’s an easy and open conversation, even considered with a level of excitement. For others, though, it can be the opposite. Regardless of personal feelings, remember that senior living is there to help and to provide valuable service to those in need.


For those hesitant towards senior living, recognize and acknowledge that this is merely another chapter in an otherwise long-lived and fruitful life. One which will serve to prolong the quality of life with friends and family. Here are some tips to discuss senior living, its benefits, and why it may make sense as the next step. So, take a deep breath, sit down together as a family, and discuss the possibility as an opportunity to live the best life possible.


To begin, don’t go into the conversation blind. That it to say, be prepared. As a family member of a loved one who is considering senior living, create a list of concerns you have for their well-being. This could be a concern for their safety as a result of living alone, or mistakes being made with medication, or maybe a change in behavior that you’ve noticed as a result of them living alone.


Be sure to educate yourself prior to the conversation regarding the senior living options that may be available in your area so that you may discuss some general options with your parent or loved one. Check out Clover Hill Senior Living’s helpful guide, Senior Living:  What’s the Right Option, to learn more about what care options are available. In this guide, you’ll not only learn about different types of options, but also the benefits of environment on health and safety. It doesn’t matter what level of care they require, be it assisted living, memory care, or other.  This, along with your own research, will help you get a good idea about what living options may suit them best.


If you come prepared to the conversation with this information, even at a general level, it will let your parent or loved one know how much you care. But be clear this is merely an exploratory conversation and no decisions are being made without them.


Once you feel comfortable that you can intelligently talk about the available options and what they may mean for them, sit down in person with your parent or loved one. Having the conversation over the phone or long distance will not have the same effect. Pick a day and time when both of you can focus on the conversation without distraction.


Starting the conversation can be difficult, but there are many ways to do so in an unalarming way. While you need to take into consideration the reasons why you think they require senior living, here are a few to consider:


  • How are you keeping busy during the day? Are you feeling bored or lonely?
  • Do you ever worry about mishaps at home and how you’ll get help if you can’t reach a phone? Or if someone can get there in time to help?
  • How are you keeping up with maintenance around the house?
  • How often do you get to see your friends? Would you like to see the more often?
  • Are you eating healthy? How about cooking? Do you still enjoy it?


Speak to them with an empathetic voice, not a sympathetic voice. What’s the difference? Speaking with sympathy makes it sound like you feel bad for them or pity them. Empathy makes them feel like you understand of feel their pain and that you will go through this together. Make sure you are listening as much if not more than you are talking.


Look for clues as to whether your parent or loved one are receptive to the idea as you are talking. It’s very possible that while you think they are ready, they may need some time to digest the idea. Allow time for the idea to sink in, be it days, weeks, or a couple of months, before making a final decision. It can be disempowering for your parent or loved one to feel like they’ve lost control over their decision making and you want to make sure they retain their voice in the process.


And try not to burden them with too much information up front. You want to give an overview, but if you go too far it can be overwhelming, turning them off to the idea and making it harder to continue the conversation.


When the initial conversation is drawing to an end, if they want to think about it longer, that’s fine. Set up another day and time to follow up and talk again on the topic. This is very important. If you leave the conversation without another meeting set up, they may let the idea lapse, knowing that they can try to avoid the topic. But if you have another meeting set up, they will be required to think about it over the next however many days.


Once you’ve reached a point where they are at least open to the idea of senior living, whether it’s assisted living, memory care, or other, check out Clover Hill’s helpful Senior Living Resources together. Our senior living resources are aimed at helping you and you loved one make informed choices about what’s right for them and the family.  There you can find objective information such as learning about different options for senior living and how to afford senior living.   Just as real estate is “local,” so is senior living.  Costs associated with care in Bergen County, New Jersey may be different from elsewhere across the country.


If we can answer any questions for you or help you along your journey in any way, please contact us today.