How to Talk about Senior Living with Your Aging Parents

Conversation vs. Conflict

The prospect of talking with your parents about senior living may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. For many older adults, the idea of moving to a senior living community poses yet another threat to their struggle to maintain control.

There are ways for adult children to communicate with their aging parents in a thoughtful, loving manner.

Adult children need to understand what makes conversations about senior living and other decisions related to aging so challenging. We need to put ourselves in their shoes to learn where they’re coming from. They are dealing with the need to keep in control when they have aged, suffered losses and hope to continue as they always have.  

That’s why families must be especially careful to be considerate of their loved ones at this stage. Stepping in and trying to take more control away by forcing the issue often makes the situation worse.  For older adults, loss dominates all aspects of the context of aging—loss of health, family members, friends, status, driving, and home weigh heavy on their daily lives. “Helping them identify and preserve choices amid these staggering losses sends an affirming signal that you are ‘control-friendly’ and a trusted advocate for their well-being.


A Step-by-Step Approach

  1. Acknowledge your parents’ need for control. Start the senior living conversation by letting your parents know you understand control is critical to their well-being, and you fully support their need to hold the reins. They need to know you’re in their corner.

What to say: “Mom and Dad, I know you’re both proud of your independence and have always made your own decisions. I want to do everything possible to support that.”


  1. Express how a specific area of their life is drifting out of control.  Describe the behavior or circumstances that present a danger to your parents’ continued independence. Don’t be afraid to show your love and concern for them.

 What to say: “I know this has been your home for a long time, but changes in your health are starting to       complicate your ability to live here independently. I’m worried that things will get further out of control.”


  1. Explain how your parents can regain control. Here, your goal is to frame the choice as a control preservation strategy. Let your parents know you’re committed to helping them reestablish control.

What to say:  Let’s talk about some options for your living situation and how these options can keep you in control.  

Of course, senior living decisions won’t be made in one quick conversation You can continually use these strategies to communicate in a way that resonates with your loved ones’ needs.

Call us at Sunnymere, 630-898-7844. Check us out.  We may be just the right place for your folks to ‘live’. 


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