If you’ve researched senior living for your loved one, you already know the benefits of these specialized residences. Today’s senior living communities offer a vibrant and active lifestyle to residents, complete with new friendships, delicious meals, and wellness resources.
However, even with all the services and amenities that often come with senior living, older adults can still sometimes feel anxious about making a senior living community a part of their retirement plan. You might be curious, concerned, or even frustrated when you discover that your loved one isn’t buying into the idea of senior living as much as you are.
Remember, encouraging your loved one to consider senior living is not something that will change their mind overnight. In fact, you might have to approach the subject quite a few times over a long period of time before you feel like you are making any progress—be patient.
If you believe senior living could be the best option for your aging loved one, but they are more reluctant to talk about it or make the next move, we have compiled a few steps that could boost their confidence over time.
Step #1: Listen to Their Objections
Before you know how to maintain a positive conversation about senior living, you need to understand the point of view your loved one has regarding the subject. The key to learning more about why your loved one might be so reluctant to consider senior living is to listen to their objections without judgment.
Your loved one might simply want to stay at home, and they aren’t alone. According to a survey of seniors, 76 percent want to live at home for as long as possible. Of course, this is reasonable because change and transition are scary no matter what age we are. They also have a whole house full of memories they cherish. Other general objections to senior living could be that it is too expensive, too lonely, or just not interesting to your loved one.
Listen to their point of view without trying to convince them they are wrong or misinformed. You can return to the subject another time, but it’s important you understand their general concerns or objections and validate them as appropriate.
Step #2: Share the Benefits
Senior living communities are designed to help older adults meet their health and wellness goals, create meaningful relationships with new friends, and offer the right amount of assistance with tasks when needed. However, many people often associate negative stereotypes with senior living communities. In fact, you may have even harbored some negative stereotypes when you first begin researching the option for your loved one.
If your loved one is reluctant to consider senior living, it might be because they simply do not understand the benefits of modern senior community living. Without making it appear as a sales pitch, bring up the benefits of senior living to your loved one and how those benefits could directly affect them. For example, you might say, “Mom, I know that you’ve been feeling lonely now that your best friend moved away to be with their family. Senior living communities have programs and events that can give you something to do as well as help you meet some new friends you can visit with.”
If you happen to know specific stories of senior living success from family friends, neighbors, or acquaintances, share those too! Being able to associate benefits with someone your loved one already knows can be quite powerful.
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Step #3: Take Them on a Tour
Perhaps the best way to experience the benefits and life in a senior living community is to live it. If you feel your loved one is at least willing to give it a try, set up a few tours of senior living communities near you.
Your personalized tour can include meeting team members and residents, as well as viewing open apartments, attending an activity, or even enjoying a meal in the dining room. Your loved one will get a sense of what life at that community could be like, and they may even picture themselves enjoying all the amenities and services as a resident.
Step #4: Talk About It with Medical Professionals
Sometimes, moving into senior living is a solution to a potentially dangerous living situation. Other times, moving into senior living prevents loneliness or even a potential emergency. In these cases, it is time to get the professionals involved in order to sway your loved one.
If your loved one is reluctant to consider senior living, it can be wise to get the opinion of your loved one’s physician and medical team. Make an appointment with your loved one’s doctor to talk about the pros and cons of senior living as well as the pros and cons of remaining at home. Your loved one might take the recommendation of their physician to heart and begin to give senior living a chance.
Step #5: Discuss the Budget
Let’s talk about money, because it’s an undeniable obstacle older adults face when it comes to moving into senior living. Many seniors think senior living communities are simply too expensive for their fixed income budget. However, today’s senior living communities are quite affordable for most older adults, with an inclusive monthly fee that matches the monthly bills they would be paying if they continued to live at home.
Listen to your loved one’s concerns about budget, and then spend time together crunching the numbers. If your loved one has a financial advisor, make an appointment with them to have a candid talk about current and future budget planning. They will help you both understand if senior living can fit into your loved one’s financial goals.
Step #6: Examine Care Options and Future Planning
Broaching the subject of current needs and future challenges in healthcare and mobility is a wise move as well. While some seniors oppose discussing having additional assistance with daily tasks, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t gently bring it up.
Many times, when older adults have a friendly caregiver to help out with daily tasks, they end up with more energy for the day. Having that extra help with personal care and household tasks can also mean a decreased risk of falling and better general health.
Talk about your loved one’s current medical needs as well as future challenges that might pop up. Then, talk about how senior living communities provide additional assistance from caregivers who are there to help at all hours of the day. Tell your loved one that you’ll feel reassured—and they’ll reap the day-to-day benefits—knowing that someone is available to help them all day long, as needed.
Step #7: Reapproach the Subject as Necessary
Remember, your loved one will not likely change their mind about senior living immediately, and that’s okay. Stay patient, keep listening, and maintain their involvement as you reapproach the subject as needed over the course of the next months or years.
In the meantime, continue to educate yourself about the senior living options available to your loved one by downloading our free guide, Understanding Senior Living Lifestyle Options. You’ll discover more details about the types of senior living communities near you as well as how to make a confident decision when the time comes.
*Originally published August 2021. Updated June 2023.