Avoid These Common Mistakes When Talking to Your Parents About Assisted Living

Have you noticed your parents are beginning to struggle with bathing or dressing? Is home upkeep becoming too much of a challenge or are healthy meals routinely replaced with snacks or processed food? 

These can all be familiar signs that loved ones may need assistance with the daily tasks of living. Families often turn to assisted living communities for the help they provide so their loved ones can continue maintaining independent lives. 

However, having the conversation about senior living can be a challenge to both families and their parents. Yet it doesn’t need to be. 

Consider these missteps that, when avoided, can greatly help you support your parents to achieve a high quality of life.  

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Talking to Your Parents About Assisted Living 

Just as there are features you’ll want to talk about when discussing your parents’ future care, there are also things better left unsaid. The following mistakes should be averted in order to create a productive and optimistic conversation. 

1. Misunderstanding what assisted living might mean to your parents 

Moving to an assisted living community may convey something totally different to your parents than just a solution to meet increased care needs. 

The primary fear of most older adults is the loss of independence and privacy. They may mistakenly view assisted living as a place where they will lose their self-reliance or choice in how to spend their days. 

Try this instead: think about how you might feel if you were in their place. Choose your words carefully and acknowledge that this can be a difficult decision. Emphasize that most residents feel more independent in assisted living as well as appreciate not spending time with family as caregivers but in enjoyable endeavors instead. 

2. Waiting until there is a crisis to make the assisted living decision 

When conversations about assisted living or future care options are brought up early and often, there is much less stress. Loved ones can be asked what they think they would like if help was needed. Waiting until there is a health incident can increase the risk of making a hurried decision and allowing little time to consider the advantages of senior living. 

Try this instead: If possible, bring the conversation up now with your parents. Ask what type of arrangements they would like or would find most helpful if their care needs changed. Would they want to bring in more services or consider moving to assisted living? Offer to gather more information or schedule a no-pressure tour so they can see what today’s communities have to offer. 

3. Making the decision without them and presenting it without discussion 

Families may think it best if they explore different senior living communities without bringing their parents into the conversation. They may choose the one they think is right and then present this decision to the parents. However, this is a life-changing event and the decision is really theirs to make, whenever possible. 

Try this instead: ask about getting together to talk about the future. You might mention concerns you have but make it clear that you are there to help and the decision about assisted living is theirs to make. You can research the options, set up visits or present the benefits that you’ve learned about, but your role is one of support. 

4. Not genuinely listening to the parents’ concerns or feelings 

Even if the adult children haven’t announced a decision, they may already have determined that an assisted living community is best and unintentionally quit considering their parents’ point of view. 

Try this instead: ask your parents to share their feelings, concerns and objections – and really listen. Be empathetic and acknowledge that this is a complicated and emotional issue. You might discover that what is really bothering them is not what’s being said. They may find it difficult to accept that they now need help. They might be afraid that they’ll no longer see or be a part of the family’s lives. 

5. Making the conversation about what they can’t do 

While you’ll want to be a good listener, it’s also effective to remain as positive as possible. Listing everything your parents can no longer do or how much they struggle can immediately cause them to become defensive and no longer interested in having the conversation. 

Try this instead: tie in a need or preference they have with a benefit that assisted living offers. If they like to paint, mention the art studio at the community. If they’ve been lonely or isolated, discuss how easy it will be to make friends. If boredom has become part of daily life, you could show them a monthly calendar of activities to choose from. If they no longer drive but hesitate to ask for rides, talk about the advantage of scheduled transportation.   

Assisted Living at Presbyterian Village North

At Presbyterian Village North, we are here whenever a helping hand is needed. Offering spacious studio, one- and two-bedroom residences, our residents personalize their choice to create the homes where they will live their highest quality of life.

Imagine a new life that includes a well-stocked library, a private dining room available for family celebrations and endless opportunities to make new friends and memories—all with the reassurance of living in a gated community with around-the-clock security.

We also provide the following services:

  • Licensed nursing staff onsite 24/7
  • Medication management administered by certified medication aides
  • Assistance with activities of daily living
  • Chef-prepared cuisine—meals per day with varied, all-day dining options
  • Dedicated Assisted Living Concierge
  • Special activities and social programs
  • Access to a full continuum of care
  • Expanded gym and aquatic center
  • Music and art programming
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapy
  • Convenient access to mobile healthcare services onsite including dental, podiatry, optometry, audiology, mobile x-ray and lab, and dietician
  • Full onsite pharmacy
  • And so much more!

Presbyterian Village North supports our residents to remain as independent as possible while living an enriched life. Please call 214-355-9015 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personal visit to our community.