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How to Talk to an Aging Parent About Assisted Living Options

Discussing assisted living options with your aging parent can be a delicate subject to broach. You want what’s best for them, but it can be tricky and even awkward to talk about assisted living options with them. If you’re feeling anxious about having this discussion, know that you are not alone. The following tips can help you navigate a dialogue and make an informed, collaborative decision about assisted living options.

Research living options

Before bringing up the topic of assisting living with a parent, do some research on the different types of living options and communities for older adults. There are many options to choose from that provide varying levels of support, depending on your parent’s current needs and potential future needs.

Start by making a list of your concerns. Maybe you are concerned their home is no longer a safe environment or perhaps they are becoming forgetful with their medication. Through your initial research, you’ll be able to see which options might best suit your parent’s needs. As part of your research also keep in mind your parent’s financial situation as this may inform their options for care.

Start having the conversation early

If you are able, begin the conversation about assisted living early on while your parent is still able to live safely in their current environment. This allows you to make the topic an ongoing discussion and lets your parent voice their concerns rather than feeling like they are being told what to do. Bringing up the topic early will also make things easier down the road and can give you peace of mind knowing that everyone is on the same page.

Involve your parent in the process and decision making

Include your parent as part of the discussion and decision making process. Everyone wants to have a say in their future and where they are going to live… no matter their age.

If it’s possible, have your parent join you when touring a community. This will give them an opportunity to get a feel for the space and see their options firsthand. It also gives them a chance to voice their opinion or bring up any concerns. Seeing the space for themselves can also help alleviate any fears or anxieties your parents might be feeling about assisted living.

Keep the lines of communication open

It can be tempting to bring up assisted living once and then wrap things up quickly. The reality is that this is likely one of many conversations. Use these discussions as a way to really listen to your loved one’s concerns about the prospect of moving into an assisted living community. It can be a really stressful time both for you and your parent, but with the lines of communication open, together you can land on the best option for your family.

Get your siblings involved

If you have siblings, talk to them first about the assisted living research you’ve done. Agreeing on the best care provider for your parents can be a challenge, but it’s important to consider their perspective as well.

When bringing up the topic to your parent it might be helpful to have your sibling(s) there as part of the conversation to discuss their thoughts and any research they have done as well. Be sure that your parents know that you are not “ganging up” on them, but rather everyone is discussing together to find the best solution.

Language Matters

When bringing up the topic with your parent, be aware of how you present it to them. Focus on using positive, non-threatening words. Refer to assisted living as a community rather than a facility. Highlight the many positives such as activities, amenities and socializing.

Your tone of voice can also make a big difference. Speak calmly and invite your parent to be part of the decision making process. Bringing up the topic of assisted living might make tempers flare. Continue to speak calmly and do not respond to anger with more anger. Actively listen to the concerns being voiced and make it a two-way conversation rather than a lecture.

Have empathy

Above all, remember to have empathy for your parent. You might not know exactly what they are feeling right now, but you can actively listen to their fears and concerns. By listening you show that you care and that you want to find the best solution for them — even when it’s a challenging thing to think about and discuss. Continue to really listen to your parent’s thoughts, worries and concerns so that you can understand what they may be feeling.

Assisted Living Options at Clark

Assisted living at Clark offers a homelike environment where residents can remain as independent as possible, while also feeling safe, secure and cared for. This includes personal care, medication management and meals from our executive chef. We also provide Assisted Living options with Memory Care. At Clark, your loved one will receive exceptional care and support from our compassionate team, while being part of a thriving community where neighbors become as close as family.

Learn More

We invite you to learn more about what Clark can offer you and your family. If you think your loved one could benefit from assisted living at Clark, contact our senior living advisors at or 616-278-6520 or fill out the form below to learn more about our living options.

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