Moving to senior living is a big decision with many benefits. You may have fewer expenses, and you’ll almost certainly have access to more amenities, more opportunities to nurture meaningful relationships and a more manageable home — not to mention quality meals without the trip to the grocery store. If you’re ready to make the move, you might already be packing your bags.
But no one is an island. Every decision has a ripple effect throughout a family and community. Your children and other family members may have questions. Perhaps your kids are concerned about losing their “home base” for family gatherings, or your grandkids are keen to help you move but don’t know how best to support you. Stereotypes about senior living can color everyone’s perspective of the move. You might encounter a combination of resistance and enthusiasm, so you’ll need to be prepared for both.
The way you talk to your family about senior living can affect how everyone feels about the decision — even you. Start things off on a positive note with a collaborative, open-minded approach. Concerned about how to talk to your family about senior living? The conversation doesn’t have to be difficult with these tips.
How To Talk to Your Family About Senior Living: Getting the Conversation Right
The key to the senior living conversation is having both empathy and advocacy. You’ll need to understand what your loved ones feel, and that requires listening. Once you have an understanding of their hopes and concerns, you can then advocate for your own needs and begin developing a family plan for the move.
Remember, the decision is yours. You don’t have to convince loved ones, and sometimes, backing off and giving them some time to think can actually encourage them to come around.
How do you get started with talking to your family about senior living?
You already know the benefits of senior living. Now it’s time to help your loved ones understand as well. Many people find that it’s helpful to highlight the reduced risk of isolation and loneliness in an environment designed to support and enhance well-being. Senior living communities foster greater independence and can help you feel happier and healthier as you age.
The amenities also help. You may enjoy a fitness center, pool, walkable trails, community gardens, community events and celebrations, and more. Meals become easier with chef-inspired foods that ensure you only have to cook when you want to. And the stresses of home maintenance melt away in a tidy, well-designed space you’ll love coming home to.
If your loved ones have previously expressed concerns about your health or independence, consider highlighting how the right community can reduce the potential of future caregiver stress. Tread carefully, though; some family members will balk if they think you’re moving solely for their benefit.
Ultimately, this conversation comes down to knowing your family. What is most important to them? Will they miss your home? Do they want you closer? Are finances a concern? What sort of support are they likely to offer? You may need to have different conversations with each family member rather than one big, high-stakes conversation with an entire group.
Start the conversation.
As with any important conversation, you need to choose the right time to have it. Don’t announce your move in the middle of a stressful family conflict or at the holiday table. Choose a moment when your loved ones feel relaxed and have time to talk. Many people find that car rides and waiting room time together can be good openers for these conversations.
Once you start, dive right in by sharing what you hope to do and why it’s important to you. Remember that you’re not seeking permission; you’re looking for support for a decision you’ve already made. And don’t be surprised if some of your family is enthusiastic about the decision. They love you, after all, and may just be happy to see you living a retirement you love.
If certain family members have unique concerns, are particularly close to you or are likely to be resistant, consider talking to them in private. Conversely, if you know some members of your family are likely to support your decision, consider telling them in advance and encouraging them to advocate for your choice.
Tips for Success
What can you do to make the conversation flow as smoothly as possible? These strategies may help:
Back away from the conversation if you sense tension or discord. Sometimes, people just need some time and space to process new information.
Know that it’s OK to make decisions your loved ones disagree with. You don’t have to justify yourself to anyone.
Initiate discussions about finances early. Your family may worry about finances, such as how you’ll afford a senior living community, what happens if you run out of money and how your finances might eventually affect them.
Listen to your loved one’s concerns with empathy rather than condescension and dismissiveness. People often get defensive or stonewall when they feel unheard. Simply treating your loved ones’ opinions as if they matter can get you much closer to harmonious agreement.
Develop a plan together for moving to a senior living community. How will you downsize? Who will help? What is the timeline? Who will be there on move-in day? Can you start planning visits now to ease the transition?
Consider talking to your loved ones before you make a firm decision if you haven’t already done so. It can be helpful to involve them early so that they don’t feel blindsided. Frame the search as a joint project and visit some communities together. You’ll meet new people and explore new environments as a family — something that can only bring you closer.
If you encounter resistance, focus on areas of agreement — for example, that you both care about your safety or financial stability. Then, highlight how your decision actually honors these concerns. Hearing that you have similar concerns can help ease worries that your decision is impulsive or based on the wrong considerations.
Eventually, your family will see the benefits of Life Plan Communities. Many residents’ children tell us they feel silly for resisting the decision or that they wish their parents had moved even earlier.
As you navigate these discussions, it’s important to be honest with yourself and your family about the financial considerations they entail. Read our free guide to learn more about the costs of Life Plan Communities.