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Talking to aging parents about housing options

You and your siblings have dreaded this conversation for months, but now it's time to approach what may be a difficult and perhaps unpleasant discussion with your aging parents. You have concerns about their ability to take care of themselves and live independently. Some changes are in order.

This discussion is expected to touch on a number of things. Is it time for them to stop driving? Should you or a sibling move into their home to take care of them? Is it the right time to hire an in-home care specialist? Should they move into an assisted care facility or nursing home?

Whew! Now that you've got that off your chest, it's time to listen. But you also may have to do some gentle nudging. Before you have this talk with your parents, you need have done your homework and researched a number of topics, especially related to their living arrangements.

Options on living arrangements

Here are a few options that families should consider when looking into alternative living for your aging parents:

  • In-home care: For some situations, in-home care may be an ideal situation. Determine what parts of their lives your parents will need help. This may include food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, grocery shopping, dressing, grooming, exercising or just getting out of the house to visit friends. This way, they will continue to live within the comfort of the longtime family home.
  • Moving in with them or having them move in with you: Sure, you're going to lose some privacy either way, but, if you're up to it, you get the chance to spend more time together. They took care of you throughout your childhood, now you may reason that it's your time to take care of them.
  • Know what options are available for senior housing: There may be senior communities, assisting centers and nursing homes. Research a number of these places before you talk to your parents. Visit some of them to learn about the available care, the programs offered such as outings and entertainment, and the costs. Then go there with your parents to make sure they are comfortable.

Your parents must be involved with the decision-making. After all, it is their lives. You also must understand they may not want to leave the house that has been their home for the past 45 years. They will know that a new place likely will be the last place that they will ever live.

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