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Tough Conversations: What Do I Do When My Parents Resist Senior Living?


You’ve been monitoring the signs, and your aging parents are losing weight, showing forgetfulness, and having a hard time keeping up their hygiene. They might have had a fall, and that’s sparked some concern about their safety at home. While the evidence may be clear to you that it’s time to consider care options, your parents may not be on the same page as far as when to move to senior living. Truthfully, seniors are often hesitant about making this very significant life change. Here are some helpful notes for working through their resistance in a way that will leave everyone feeling understood and appreciated.

Do Extra Homework

Speaking in the abstract about senior living can make it seem a lot more foreboding than talking through living options at specific communities. Take some time to collect information and research possible solutions, so the next time you chat with Mom and Dad about senior living, you’ll have real options to discuss. Make it specific, and be ready to show pictures for local communities or look at websites, so you can ask questions together.

Make Sure They Have a Say

Conversations about moving to senior living aren’t easy for anyone. Your aging parents naturally still want their independence, and it’s certainly understandable if they put up some resistance.

Make sure to include them as an active part of the decision-making process. This isn’t about dictating to them how things will go but exploring options and finding the best solution together. Talk about their questions and hear out their concerns. Try drawing out the underlying cause of their resistance. Ask what they will miss about home, and work together on finding ways to address that. Coming at the problem from the same side of the table communicates to your parents that you truly want what’s best for them.

Speak Out of Love

With sensitive conversations, our communication style matters. If your parents are having a difficult time processing their situation, acknowledge the difficulty and sadness. Make sure they know you’re coming from a place of love and concern – not fear or control. Focus on the benefits that senior living can provide, like socializing, a maintenance-free lifestyle that gives them more independence, and tasty prepared meals. Finally, if you’re having a hard time making headway, feel free to leave the topic for a bit. As long as their safety isn’t a pressing concern, allowing them time to process could be good for everyone.

Engage Others in the Conversation

Who brings the message matters just as much as how it’s said, and you might need some backup to navigate these talks. If you have siblings, take time to get together and come to agreements among yourselves about plans for Mom and Dad, then talk to them separately and finally together. Consider inviting over a community leader, such as a pastor, or a trusted family friend. You might also involve your parents’ physician to speak on safety and medical issues.

Go Touring!

Mom and Dad might have a picture of Assisted Living in their heads that’s quite different from reality. Schedule a few tours around town and have some fun looking at senior living communities with them. Seeing a warm, welcoming community with a positive environment and fun activities may open them up to the idea. It can help you to try out communities too, so you can make sure that you’re comfortable and confident with the place they will call home.

Ebenezer Cares

If you’re considering senior living communities, take a look at our living options online. Ebenezer is Minnesota’s largest senior living operator, bringing over 100 years of experience, and we’d be honored to serve your loved ones.

For more resources to help you navigate tough conversations about senior living, make sure to visit the Ebenezer blog.

Learn more about our upcoming events!

Resident looking at some papers with an advisor at Ebenezer Senior Living
Take the First Step in Your Next Journey

Ebenezer is Minnesota’s largest senior living operator with over 100 years of experience serving older adults. As part of Fairview Health Services, Ebenezer is dedicated to healing, discovering and educating for longer, healthier and meaningful lives. ​

Discrimination is Against the Law. We comply with applicable Federal civil rights laws. We do not discriminate against, exclude or treat people differently because of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation.

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