Convincing a Parent It’s Time to Move

Convincing a Parent Its Time to Move

Notice that this article is titled “Convincing…” not “Telling…”  This is a situation requiring the precision of a diamond cutter, the bravery of a lion and the fancy footwork of Fred Astaire… not to mention the hide of a rhino and the patience of a saint!

You’ve seen it coming on for years; Mom can’t keep up the yard, but doesn’t want to pay a lawn service.  She worries every time she pulls the car out to go to church or the grocery store.  She’s just not sure of herself.  Here’s the woman who could single-handedly put on a Thanksgiving feast for 20 and have it all come to the table at the same time but now she isn’t eating well because cooking for one is just too much of a hassle.

All of these situations are valid reasons to discuss a move to a retirement or assisted living community.  Any one of them will do to open the conversation.  It’s a tough and sensitive issue that no one wants to talk about.  Imagine how you’d feel being told you aren’t able to take care of your own affairs anymore.

A vital piece of information to remember is that this is not only your parent, this is an independent adult.  They’ve lived through some pretty amazing things.  And had a career.  And raised kids.  And took care of Dad at the end.  Do you have the right to “tell” this person what to do?  Make suggestions, listen, and put your 2 cents worth in.  And then listen some more.  At the end of the day, as long as your parent has the mental capacity, they also have the right to call the shots.


Here are some tips on how to keep the conversation going beyond the inevitable, “I’m never moving!”

  • A parent’s resistance could stem from trust issues. They’ve worked hard at keeping everything going, compensating for their waning health and now they’re being asked to turn that over to someone else… that’s huge.  Trusting someone in their home to clean or cook or do yard work, is like asking them to waive the white flag.  Point out the benefits to them.
  • Self-reliance is a big part of their self-esteem; keep that in mind when discussing assistance.
  • Show them the benefits for them and you. Do some research about how they currently accomplish the household chores.  Who cooks?  Who cleans?  Who drives?  How do you remember to take your medications?  Show them how these things can be accomplished in assisted living, with help at hand.
  • Make a list of things that the family does for them. If your parent has aged in place, chances are good that certain duties have been handed over along the way.  Once they see the list, they may realize how much they’ve come to rely on that help and how much independence they’ve already relinquished.
  • So many seniors think that they’ll have to manage the actual physical moving process on their own. Show them the type of help available, the people who can manage the move, showing them how much or how little they’ll need to be involved can help them change their mind about a move.
  • Ask someone their own age that’s been through this process to have a talk with them. Be sure to ask someone who had a successful experience, someone who will impart the right message.
  • Being part of the decision process. If a crisis comes up, health or financial or household related, that’s a tough time to have to make decisions.  Talking about something before being forced into a decision is the best way to be sure that your parent is getting what they want, not just what they can have.

If your parent feels good about their decision, and feels that it’s THEIR decision, you’ve laid a perfect foundation for a successful move.  So start the conversation.  The earlier the better.

Accessing the support of an Elder Care Advisor is also helpful to this process.  CHOICE Advisory is an agency supported financially by the senior housing & care industry.  There is no cost to call and enlist their help.  They will even meet with your parent or with your family to help convince your parent that a move is due.

Contact a CHOICE advisor to get their support during this process.  800-361-0138.