Saturday, December 21, 2013

"The Dreaded Conversation": 9 Tips for Talking with Mom and Dad About Senior Living (Guest Post)

Disclosure: I was given the information to post from Jeanine Genauer for Juniper Communities. No compensation was received. This is a guest post. (Also, please note, I do not work for the below mentioned facilities. I do feel that the information may be helpful to some.)

Submitted by Jeanine Genauer for Juniper Communities

The Dreaded Conversation:  9 Tips for Talking with Mom and Dad About Senior Living
The holiday season is a wonderful time for reuniting with family and friends. It is also a time we may notice warning signs that our aging elders are no longer safe to live alone.  That realization can lead to the dreaded conversation.  Being prepared will make it easier on you all. 
When it's time to have the talk, these eight tips can help avoid accusations, frustration and anger.
1.     Be clear and explain why a move to senior living is best. Be prepared for mom and dad to become defensive or argumentative about their ability to care for themselves. Request a free copy of the Juniper Resource Guide at 
2.     Start the talk soon and make it an on-going discussion. It takes time for parents to adjust to the idea of moving, especially into a senior living community. Make sure you don’t wait for a health or safety disaster to happen first, then it could be too late.
3.     Frame the talk as an open conversation, where everyone’s opinions are heard. Be understanding of fears and expect to encounter differences of opinion. If you have siblings, have them be part of the conversation; but you want to be sure they are in agreement with you.
4.     Approach your parents in private, not in front of other relatives or guests as they might feel emotionally hurt, embarrassed or argumentative by the topic.
5.     Expand their understanding of senior living options and the differing levels of care at each. Explain there are options where they will not lose their freedom and independence. Be sure to have done your research first. Various options are described at
6.     Be aware of your language when describing the options. They are no longer “old folks’ homes”.  Call it a “community” not a “facility”. Talk about "apartment-style living" rather than "rooms."
7.     Acknowledge their fear. Dad may not want to say this, but probably knows deep down that if he makes a move, it is likely his last.  You cannot shy away from this.  Allow this fear and concern about illness and mortality to be part of the longer term discussion.  
8.     Enlist the aid of other elderly family members and your parent’s friends. They may have already made a move to senior living and could be valuable allies in the process. 
9.     Most importantly, be prepared to provide emotional support.   There will inevitably be fear and even anger over the loss of home and independence.  There will likely be denial that assistance in daily activities is needed.  It will be difficult for mom or dad to come to the realization they might not be able to live on their own.
Throughout this process, remain caring, compassionate, and supportive.  Offer to take your parents to visit communities in their area.  If they are computer savvy, steer them to websites of appropriate communities and other resources. 
We believe that our Juniper Communities website and blog may be particularly helpful.  Our vision of nurturing life spirit and being alive in all seasons of life resonates with many elders.   Please visit or  for information and resources. 

About Juniper Communities

Juniper Communities founded in 1988 owns and operates 18 long-term care communities in NJ, FL, PA and CO.  Juniper is dedicated to Nurturing the Spirit of Life in each individual served and believes the keys to healthy aging are an active body, an engaged mind, and a fulfilled spirit.  The company¹s mission is to serve its stakeholders, residents, families, employee associates, and investors with excellence and strong dedication to the company¹s hallmarks of quality, value and innovation. For more information on Juniper call (973) 661-8300 or visit
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