How to Speak to Elderly Parents about Housing Options

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How to Speak to Elderly Parents about Housing Options

As your parents have gotten older, you may have noticed they need more help. Some common signs can be an unusually dirty house, missed doses of medication, late bills, poor diet and/or weight loss, and unexplained bruising. While this may be hard to come to terms with, there can be a point when your parents simply need more help with day to day living. 

The hard part is having the conversation about housing options for seniors with your parents. Look at it from their point of view. They are used to being the parent and making the decisions. To them, this is like losing their independence. This can be very tough to accept. Many seniors will resist when the subject of leaving their home or getting help is brought up. It is a hard conversation to have, as you don’t know how they will react. Being prepared before having the talk can make it easier on both sides. 

Do Your Homework

Being prepared can make the discussion go a lot smoother. If you do your research before initiating the conversation, it can make you seem more credible. After all, you aren’t making this decision for them. You are just gathering the information for both of you to be able to make an informed decision. There are a few things you can do that can help you be as prepared as possible.

Make a List of Your Concerns

It can be helpful to have a list of the things that concern you. This can be anything from fear of a fall to a mistake with a medicine dose. If you go into the talk with a list of concerns, your parent may realize that there are real things that could happen to them if they remain in their current living situation without any help.

Educate Yourself on Senior Living Options

Research the different living options for seniors and be prepared to talk about them. There are a number of different options, including in-home care, assisted living, senior housing, and more. Learn the details about each, and determine which one would be the best fit for your parent. Research pricing for the different options as well.

Know Your Parent’s Financial Situation

By knowing your parent’s financial situation, it can help you to gather appropriate information on senior living options. You need to have an accurate idea of what they can afford when doing research. Some seniors may have specific savings accounts or long-term care insurance to fund ongoing care or living arrangements.

Tips For Talking to Your Parent About Their Living Situation

Show Empathy

You don’t want your parent to feel as if you feel sorry for them. Have the conversation in a kind and respectful manner, and make sure they know you are trying to understand their fears and reservations. This is a tough thing for them to accept, especially coming from their child. By being positive and uplifting, you can help to make this easier on them. Also control your tone of voice so that it is calm and pleasant. Don’t not speak loudly to avoid your parent thinking you are lecturing them as opposed to having a discussion with them.

Speak in Person

This is not the kind of conversation to have over text messages or on a phone call. By not talking in person, it can make it seem like you don’t care or are taking this lightly. Arrange to get together in a quiet, casual atmosphere where you won’t be interrupted. It is best to not jump right into it, but rather work it into conversation.

Go Slow

This will likely not be resolved in one conversation, so be prepared to talk about this numerous times. Have the initial conversation in a very casual way, knowing that it is one of many talks you will have. This is a huge step for your parent, so it’s important to not rush it.

Ask Open-Ended Questions 

By asking open-ended questions, it can help your parent open up and bring up their own concerns. They may even bring up concerns you didn’t know they had. Some questions to ask can be:

  • Do you feel safe living at home alone?
  • Do you have any problems with the stairs, bathtub, etc?
  • Are you lonely? (discussing the socialization aspect of a senior community would be appropriate here)
  • Is it stressful keeping up with the housework? Would it help to have someone who handles your housekeeping?
  • Would it be helpful to have someone handle your finances?
  • Do you feel safe driving?

Don’t Overload Them With Information

You have likely just dropped a huge bomb on your parent by bringing up the topic of other living arrangements. Overloading them with information at this point can make them feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and angry. The last thing you want is for your parent to become defensive and end the conversation. Since you will likely have numerous conversations, take your time. If the first conversation ends badly, it could possibly be hard to resume at a later time.

Include Them in the Process and Decision Making

Most people want to pick where they live. Just because you get older, this doesn’t change. It is important to include your parent in the decision-making process. Ask them to go with you to tour facilities or interview caretakers. By including them, it can help to make them feel more independent and in control. It can also make the transition easier if they are able to speak to residents of living facilities or ask their possible caregiver questions. 

Senior Housing Options

  • Home Care Services- In-home care can range from help with daily activities to general companionship to skilled home health care. This allows your parent to stay in their home, just with added help.
  • Senior Housing- Senior housing usually consists of apartments or condos. It is for those who can live independently but want a community of people their own age around them. While social activities and transportation are usually included, personal care and meals are not. Senior housing is for ages 55 and up. A daily check in is common in senior housing.
  • Independent Living Community- Independent living communities are for active and independent seniors. The homes or apartments are maintenance free and usually include amenities such as 24 hour security, a pool, community center and more.
  • Assisted Living- Assisted living facilities are for seniors who don’t need the medical care of a nursing home but require help with day to day living. Meals, housekeeping, laundry, medication management, and help with dressing and bathing are usually included. While medical services typically aren’t provided with assisted living, the facility will usually provide access to it.
  • Nursing Home- A nursing home is for seniors who need full medical care, along with help with day to day activities, such as dressing, bathing, and eating. You have to be referred by a doctor to be admitted to a nursing home.
  • Alzheimer's/Memory Care- If your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia, they may need the help of a memory care facility, a dedicated unit or stand alone facility for those with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia-related condition. Memory care units provide 24 hour nursing care and security, as well as provide therapy and other activities to improve quality-of-life .

How CareLink Can Help

CareLink exists to help you remove some of the anxiety and uncertainty from aging. We help senior adults stay in their homes for as long as possible. Whether your parent needs in-home care, daily meal delivery, help with housekeeping, legal advice, companionship, or another service, we will use our resources and knowledge to help you find the specialized service that your parent needs. Call us for more information!

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Posted by Meredith Hale at 8:45 AM