Moving Aging Parents: How to Start the Conversation

To move or not to move becomes a topic of conversation for most people as they age. Perhaps you and your siblings have been concerned for a while about your parents’ living situation. You want to honor their preference if they want to stay in their home, but you also want them to be safe and comfortable. Deb Nygaard, senior care consultant and director of development at Arthur’s Residential Care, offers this list of suggestions to start the conversation about moving aging parents.

Talking about moving with aging parents

Start early. Begin planting seeds years in advance. Start the conversation with comments like, “When you are ready to move…” “When you need more care…” “When you downsize…” “Your next place…”

Bring it up occasionally. Having a plan will make both parents and children more comfortable.

Make statements in the first person. “I’m so worried about you.” “I’m not sleeping well at night because I’m so worried.” “It would put my mind at ease if you would find a safer place to live.” “I love you so much, and this is killing me.”

Discuss with siblings. If you have siblings, share your observations and have frequent conversations about the concerns you have.

What is essential? Make a list of what your parents want and need in a new place.

Get on the same page. Make sure all of your siblings are on the same page.  If just one of your siblings urges mom to stay in her home, a move will likely be unsuccessful.  Hiring a neutral Certified Senior Advisor to help facilitate a family discussion may be a good choice in situations where siblings are contentious.

Initiate tours. Ask Dad to come and visit an assisted living place just to make you feel better (in a “give it a try” tone). Let Dad know that you can’t make a decision for him, because he’s still in control of his life, but that you would feel better if he knew what options were out there and could make an informed decision.

Getting started. Offer two dates that you are available from which Dad can choose, and tour about three places that day.

Back off. If parents are very resistant, back off for the time being. You can bring it up again later. The important thing is to get the idea planted.

If something happens. Unfortunately, Mom or Dad may need to go through a scary event before they’ll consider moving, such as a fall, a burglary, a fire, or a health issue. If this happens, recognize that this was the most respectful way for you to honor their choice to stay home, and deal with the aftereffects as they come. Let go of the mentality that “you have to move before a crisis happens.”  For some people, this is the best choice.

Help with moving. There are a lot of companies that manage moving for seniors. This might be beneficial if relationships are strained, or you live far away from your parents.

Resources available.  The Minnesota Board of Aging and the Senior Linkage Line may have additional resources to help you.

Don’t feel guilty about past promises or commitments to Mom or Dad.  As circumstances change you need to do what’s best for them in the present.

Deb Nygaard, senior care consultantNeed to talk?

If you have questions about your loved one’s care or need help finding resources, contact Deb Nygaard at Arthur’s Residential Care for a free, no-obligation chat.