Coming Home for the Holidays: Having the Conversation with Mom and Dad about Assisted Living during the Holidays
When you live out of state or away from home, sometimes coming home for the holidays is the only opportunity to have a face-to-face conversation with Mom and Dad about their living circumstances. While the prospect may sound daunting, having a heartfelt conversation with them in person–ideally long before circumstances require a change–can make all the difference in helping your parents plan for the next stage of life.
Getting started with a conversation is often the hardest part of the process, but remember that open communication among family members will make the transition to this season of life clearer for both seniors and their children.
Of course, openness should not be confused with confrontation. No time of year is right for “ganging up” on a relative about what you think they should do. Worse yet is showing up with a plan–surprise!–that you’ve put together without their input. Starting conversations with questions to get Mom or Dad thinking about their situation is best, as they will appreciate having their feelings heard and valued first.
Questions to Consider
The following questions, posed in a gentle yet direct manner, can get some conversations rolling. Think open-ended, not “yes-no,” as you begin to gather your parent’s feelings and concerns.
- What have been your biggest health concerns lately? How are those impacting your daily life?
- How has your daily routine changed in the past year or so? What tasks have gotten more difficult to complete?
- What do you wish you could change about your current living situation?
- How do you envision yourself spending the next season of life? What are your priorities and non-negotiables?
- What resources have you set aside for transitioning to a new living situation? What kind of help might you need?
- What do you want us to remember as we continue to discuss options and timing?
Timing the Conversation
Does your parent seem hesitant to delve into these questions? If circumstances permit, pull back and wait to continue the discussion the next time you see them in person. The subject will have already been broached, so getting back into conversation may be easier. Starting early, of course, and letting your parent know there is a wide variety of options in the future, is the best way to increase the comfort level of discussing assisted living.