Dear Donna:

My parents are both almost 86 years old. They live alone in an older home with a considerable amount of property. Because they live over an hour away, it’s difficult for me to visit as often as they need.

They’ve managed fairly well on their own until recently. My dad has had a couple of bad falls. The last time he fell, my mom had to call a neighbor for help. I know the risk of serious injury is high for older adults and how important it is to try to prevent falls.

My husband and I have decided our first step will be convincing my parents to hire a home care agency to help. We are hoping if they get comfortable accepting assistance, they might be more willing to move to a senior living community in a few years.

Do you have any advice for talking with my parents? I’m not sure how to start this conversation.

Kind regards,

Colette in Midland, MI

Talking with Parents about Senior Care

Dear Colette:
It sounds like you’ve thought this through and are on the right track! But I know that doesn’t make it easier. Starting a conversation about senior care with a parent can make you feel uneasy. Adult children often delay bringing up the topic to avoid upsetting an elder they love.

In some cases, families don’t have a serious talk about the future until an accident or illness forces the discussion. If you wait until a crisis occurs, it will likely be even more stressful. A crisis may also force you to rush through the process of exploring your options. You are less likely to make an informed choice under duress.

A few tips to help you initiate a conversation about care are:

  • Do your homework: Talk with a few home care agencies and even two or three senior living communities. You’ll feel more confident having a conversation with your parents when you better understand senior care as a whole.
  • Be mindful: When you are frightened about a loved one’s safety, it’s easy to become forceful and seem unsympathetic. That will likely put your parents on the defensive, especially if they aren’t receptive to making this change. By demonstrating patience and empathy, you might be able to open the dialogue.
  • Talk often: Despite how much an adult child might want the conversation to be quick and easy, it usually isn’t. In most circumstances, it will take a series of discussions over a few weeks or months.
  • Start small: If your parents are resistant, it might help to start small and find some middle ground. Will your father agree to wear an emergency alert pendant or watch? Maybe they would agree to a few hours of assistance with chores that might be a little riskier for them, such as laundry, grocery shopping, and taking out the trash.
  • Enlist their physician: It may also help if your parents’ primary care physician can join the discussion. If it’s time for a physical or if your father needs follow-up from his fall, seek the doctor’s input. Their influence might be what your parents need to hear to agree to make some changes.

I hope this information is useful to you, Colette! Best of luck to you and your parents.



About Heritage Senior Communities

For four generations, Heritage Senior Communities has been a family-owned and -operated company. We are dedicated to providing older adults with quality senior housing and licensed assisted living. With communities throughout Michigan and one in Indiana, we are one of the Midwest’s most trusted names in senior living.

We encourage you to call the community nearest you if the need for independent living, assisted living, or memory care should arise!