You’ve seen changes: rotting food in the fridge, forgotten pans on the fire, weight gain, weight loss, frequent falls, … You’ve evaluated it all for signs that your parents need help.
Now—how to talk to Mom and Dad about it?
Well, think back to when your parents guided you as a kid through some pretty tough conversations. You know it always went best when everyone stayed calm—and didn’t make it awkward.
That’s your cue to do the same.
Yes, they are going to have concerns. And, no, they might not love the idea immediately. Acceptance takes time.
But if you think ahead through some of their worries, you can give them peace of mind—and treat them like the adults that they are.
Here are some answers to fears they might have.
We’re Too Young for a Nursing Home
They are probably right.
But thankfully today, there are many different levels of assistance to keep your parents from needing a nursing home as long as possible.
- Bring help in to them
- Relocate them closer to you or even in with you,
- Find a senior day center,
- Move them to a senior apartment complex, or
- Move them to an assisted living facility
Layout your concerns about their health and then talk through which living situation would be best for them.
Is This a Done Deal?
If there’s major memory loss or dementia, you may have to make this decision for them. Otherwise, involve your parents in each step.
- Take tours together
- Interview caregivers together
- Try the food
- Let them stay the night or a weekend just as a sample
Remind Mom and Dad that just because you’re looking doesn’t mean they have to move tomorrow.
Hopefully you’ve started this conversation early enough so they can find a place they really like.
This Is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave
Assure them that you get it. America greatest treasure is the right to choose how we want to live. And this isn’t about taking that away.
Instead, it’s about giving them as much independence as possible, letting them do the things they love.
The problem is:
- Homes require upkeep like cleaning gobs of rooms and lawn work. It prevents them from spending their time doing what they really want to do.
- Besides, if they live on their own without any support, something could happen that might land them in the hospital, either ill or injured, taking away all their freedom.
But if they have the right help, they can do all that they are able without worrying about the hard stuff.
Examples? Senior living apartments and assisted living facilities have baking activities, gardening clubs, craft parties, and other daily activities including outings to concerts and shopping.
It’s not about clipping their wings. It’s about making sure their place is safe for them to fly.
We’re Not Made of Money
What’s most important, though, is that they are in a place where they can thrive safely.
- Accidents at home—like falling and breaking a hip—can be costly.
- If they aren’t eating right or taking their prescriptions correctly, illnesses can be expensive.
- Even pennies spent for small things, like burned pots on hot stoves, can add up quickly.
But if you take time to ask good questions of assisted living caregivers, you can find the right place for the right price, where Mom and Dad’s safety won’t be nickel-and-dimed.
What About Keeping Your Friends Close?
No bones about it, this one is hard. Your parents have probably said goodbye to a lot of friends over the years. And it doesn’t get easier. Some may have moved, some passed on. There’s a true grief that comes with that.
- If you and your parents decide that moving is the best for their safety and health, hopefully they can keep in touch with their current friends, maybe even visiting when possible.
- And there may be an opening in a facility where some of their friends have already moved to.
But the really great thing? Moving closer to you or into an assisted living facility will actually give them more interaction with potential friends versus being cooped up by themselves in their home—especially if they live in the Midwest with 15 months of winter.
After all, they can talk Alexa, and she might answer back—but it isn’t really communication.
So remind them what they always told you when you were heading off to a new place: Strangers are just friends waiting to happen.
Still Quaking in Their Boots?
You want Mom and Dad to keep their balance, so go easy. No hard sells here. If hearts seem to be missing a few beats, let it go for a few days. Give them time to get used to the idea, to grieve what they’re giving up.
Apprehensions are normal with new paths.
But when you bring up the conversation again later, gently show them that while change may take getting used to, they’ll actually have less anxiety knowing others are close by to help if they need it.
And you just want them in a place where they can live life to the fullest.
(Need to talk about this with your siblings? Read this post on choosing the best place for Mom and Dad without fighting the family)
Elizabeth Daghfal is a writer, teacher, speaker, and community volunteer. When she isn't teaching or writing-- Who are we kidding? Her husband and five kids say she's ALWAYS teaching and writing. She has a passion to help people who are struggling and is happy to say her shoulders are drip-dry. Born and raised in the South, she now lives in Wisconsin and loves it--except for the fifteen months of winter. Read more about her at elizabethdaghfal.com.