Dear Donna:

My dad has been living alone for almost six years now. Until about two years ago, he was strong, active, and independent. Then he had a bad fall and his health has declined significantly. Because his house was built decades ago, it’s not a very supportive environment for a senior. I worry he will fall again.

After speaking with his nurse practitioner about options, it’s become obvious that he needs to move to an assisted living community. I know his nutrition and overall well-being will improve. However, I don’t know how to start this discussion with my dad.

Do you have any suggestions?



Tips to Start a Conversation about Assisted Living with a Parent


Great question! Adult children and even grandchildren frequently ask us for this advice. Loved ones want to ensure their family member has the care and support needed without hurting their feelings or pride.

A few tips that might be useful for having a productive discussion with your dad include:

  • Using kind language: Try not to use forceful phrases like “you have to” or “you need to.” Instead, tell your parent that you are worried about them or that you are concerned about their health and safety. It will help them to be a part of the process rather than feel they are being forced into something. Your tone of voice matters, as does your body language.
  • Bringing up assisted living indirectly: You can share stories about a friend whose parent has recently moved to an assisted living community. Talk about how they are thriving and how well it’s working out. By planting a seed and waiting a few days, your dad might have time to think about it in a positive way.
  • Sharing your own fears: Telling a parent that it’s hard for you to see them struggle with age-related health issues is a great way to begin the conversation. So is sharing your worry that your dad will experience another fall when he is alone. You can then ease into discussing options like home care and assisted living. Don’t forget to highlight the many benefits of assisted living communities, such as healthy meals, activities, and access to caregivers around the clock.

Managing a Parent’s Resistance to Care

Just because you are ready to begin the conversation about assisted living with your dad doesn’t mean he is ready to listen. It’s not uncommon for older adults to become defensive when it comes to decisions about future care needs. Even when their health is declining, they still want to feel independent. Keep this in mind and don’t try to rush your dad unless you feel like his well-being is in danger.

I hope this helps, Kate! If you would like to visit one of our communities before you have this talk, one of our experienced team members will be happy to show you around and answer all of your questions.

Kind regards,