Many topics are difficult, or just awkward, to talk about with our parents. While some conversations seem particularly uncomfortable when we’re younger, there are still many subjects that come up as our parents age and their needs start to change. For adult children, it can be challenging to grapple with your role in your senior parent’s life and how your relationship changes over time.

For some adult children, being a support system to an older loved one can evolve into assuming new caregiving responsibilities—but this is not always the best option for everyone involved. No matter how confident you are that a senior living community would provide a higher quality of life for the senior in your life, it can still be confusing to plan for “the talk” about long-term care options. This topic has been vetted more frequently, including a recent NPR conversation between NPR’s Neal Conan and Amy Dickinson, “Ask Amy” syndicated columnist.

Whether your parent had a recent health incident or you’re just concerned about their safety at home, it’s important to share these concerns sooner rather than later. The ultimate decision to move to a senior living community can be difficult for your loved one for a variety of reasons. As you prepare to broach the topic, consider these tips to help you prepare for a healthy, stress-free conversation about choosing senior living:

1. Do some research on senior living options.

Come prepared for your conversation with plenty of talking points to support your reason for suggesting senior living. Planning ahead is particularly important if you have concerns for your parent’s safety or general well-being—this can be a sensitive topic they may not be open to discussing right away. Start by researching several senior care options in the Grand Valley area so you know how to discuss the benefits of one over the other. Additional items to note might include your specific concerns about their quality of life in their current home and any examples where they may benefit from some additional help, such as managing medications, preparing meals or doing housework.

2. Pick a time to talk and be honest about why you want to meet.

Once you feel prepared to talk about senior living, schedule a time to sit down and talk things over. Bringing this up out of the blue might not go over so well and might make your loved one feel attacked rather than supported. You don’t have to use scare tactics to make it clear that you take this seriously. If your parent recently had a health issue, suggest the conversation as an opportunity to catch up on how they’re recovering. If you feel they’d be more responsive to a broader conversation, just explain that you’ve had something on the back of your mind, and you want to talk to them about their thoughts. Either way, scheduling your chat in advance with the precedent that it’s more than just a light-hearted hello will help your loved one emotionally prepare to talk about something important.

Photo: Woman talking with her parent about senior living

3. Take time to explain your points and let your parent do the same.

This discussion can stir a lot of emotions, both for you and your loved one. Rather than listing off all your research and concerns in a hurry, try to keep the conversation as natural as possible. Take cues from what your parent is telling you and use empathy to show you care about their perspective. Avoid talking down and try not to express feelings of guilt or pity—this can be hurtful to your loved one, who most likely doesn’t want you to feel sorry for them. Keep the conversation fair and honest by giving them plenty of time to express their feelings.

4. Involve a trusted third party who can lend their support.

Having another person with you while you talk about senior living can make a world of difference on the overall experience for both you and your parent. However, because this is a very personal issue, it’s important to choose a confidant both you and your parent can trust. Ideally, you’ll want to bring someone who agrees with what you’re saying and can lend emotional support to your parent during and after your talk. Having this support can also make it clear that you aren’t trying to tell your parents how to live their life, but you do want to support them in living a high-quality life.

5. Be prepared to follow up or have this conversation several times.

Because moving from home to a senior living is an important decision, give it time. It’s possible you may need to bring up the topic a few times to make it clear that you’re serious about how this can make their life easier. Look for cues that your parent might benefit from some additional help and use those as opportunities to further the discussion. Problems around the house, bad weather that interrupts plans, neighbors moving away—these are a few scenarios where you can remind your parent about the stress-free life in senior living where chores are taken care of, complimentary transportation is available, and opportunities for lasting friendships happen every day.

6. Visit a community before a move is necessary.

Many assisted living communities, such as The Lodge at Grand Junction, will host events regularly. If you’d like your parent to see what life at the community could be like, join a friend or family member at an event. It’s a great way to have some fun, meet the staff and take a look around.

As you’re going through the process of helping a loved one consider living in a retirement community, stay persistent that your main goal is to see them live a happy, healthy, fulfilling life. Even if they aren’t keen on the idea at first, you can open their views through patience and compassion. With the help of these tips, your conversations about care options can stay productive and supportive while you work toward helping your parent plan for their long-term needs.

At The Lodge at Grand Junction, we’re committed to helping our residents live well and age well. This means that from the moment you enter the lobby, we want to ensure you not only feel comfortable but also feel at home. If you have questions about talking to a loved one about senior living or are ready to learn more about how our community can help an older adult in your life age well, visit thelodgeatgrandjunction.com or call 970-470-8428 to speak with one of our staff members.