The Right Way to Talk About Senior Living Options

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 19 October 2011

So it’s time to talk about a senior care transition. Maybe you’ve noticed your spouse or parent needs more support than you are able to give, or you’re concerned about isolation and loneliness. Perhaps a recent illness has initiated a noticeable decline in function. For many older adults living with Alzheimer’s, as the losses compound and intensify, caregiver exhaustion follows suit.

Whatever the reason for introducing the subject of a senior living transition (i.e. bringing in home care, considering assisted living, exploring senior apartments), the right way to start the conversation is with respect. Respect for the individual/couple’s right to choose what they feel is best (even if you disagree), respect for the struggle they may have with accepting this impending transition, respect for their independence and abilities before, during, and after the transition has taken place.

Compassion is closely tied to respect. While you might feel a change is best for your loved one, the emotions on the other side are quite different. Beginning the process of exploring senior care often signifies to the senior an inability to manage some aspect of their life. And for most people, accepting help is not easy. Be sensitive to this.

When you talk about senior living options, never do so forcefully or condescendingly, never impose your opinion before first hearing what your loved one’s preferences are; be patient, caring, and supportive.

Talk back: How did you approach this sensitive topic with your senior loved one? Share your advice and tips here.


Do you have something to say?