Talking with Parents About Assisted Living

Discussing assisted living with a loved one is a difficult conversation. Use these tips to help you talk with mom or dad about the lifestyle change.

Change can be hard at any age. When a loved one needs a little extra help to maintain their everyday lifestyle, family members may have to help him or her make a difficult decision to move into an assisted living residence.

Stella Henry is the author of “The Eldercare Handbook” and has 36 years of experience as a registered nurse and a nursing home administrator. In an article from A Place For Mom, she says that having the conversation about and moving mom and dad is “probably one of the hardest decisions a child will ever have to make.”

Being prepared for discussing the decision can make it easier for all involved. If you’re anxious about starting the conversation, here are some tips for talking with parents about moving into an assisted living residence that can help:

Before the talk
Ideally, the decision to transition to an assisted living residence should be made by the family.

Assisted Living Today recommends discussing housing options with siblings if you have them. You might have a different plan in mind than your siblings do! Discuss options among yourselves before bringing up the matter with mom or dad to make sure you’re all on the same page.

Even if your parents might not need to move right now, it can’t hurt to plan for the future. Life can bring unexpected events. Don’t wait to have the conversation about moving into an assisted living residence when a crisis comes up, Henry says.

“Let’s face it, it’s a tough conversation and no one wants to address it when things seem fine,” Sean Kell, CEO of A Place for Mom writes in an Huffington Post article.

Even though the conversation may not be pleasant, it’s necessary to have this talk. Don’t be afraid to have this discussion with your parents, because you’re acting out of love to do what is best for them.

During the talk
There are many signs that indicate when it’s time for a parent to move into assisted living. Helping a loved one identify an area where they could use assistance can be the starting point of your conversation. For example, is your parent falling or not eating? Is medication expired or not being taken in the correct dosage?

Do your best to have an open conversation with your parent. Mention the benefits of moving into a new home – whether it is less yard work or being free from preparing meals.

Ken Robbins, a geriatric psychiatrist, says in a article that a doctor, cleric, family friend or other neutral third party can join the conversation when a parent resists any talk about his or her future. They can explain options for fixing a problem, without putting a strain on your relationship with mom or dad.

Help parents maintain a sense of dignity and control, says geriatric communication expert David Solie in the article. Try to keep the conversation positive and collaborative, the article says.

Avoid being negative during the conversation. Work together to come to the conclusion that assisted living may be the best option for your parents.

After the talk
Once a parent is ready to consider moving into an assisted living residence, there will be many more decisions to make. Continue to talk to your parents and involve them in every step of the process. The Assisted Living Today article notes that being involved in the decision may help your parents feel better about the move.

Offer to accompany mom or dad on a tour of their new home. Make sure they feel comfortable and empowered to maintain their everyday activities. Find out what your parents both want and need in their new accommodations.

There are many questions to keep in mind when evaluating assisted living residences. The Assisted Living Federation of America includes a checklist of questions to evaluate an assisted living community. For example, are there handrails and elevators for those with trouble walking? Does the community provide housekeeping services in personal apartments?

Into the future
Talking about moving a loved one into assisted living can be a difficult experience. Being prepared – before, during and after the talk – can help make the transition easier for all involved.


At The Healthcare Resort of Plano, our service is provided with hospitality and love. We adopt a concierge-style approach that allows guests to feel comfortable and secure in their new homes. If you are interested in setting up a tour, we invite you to contact us.