How to Speak to Aging Seniors About Assisted Living

Category: Assisted Living | Frequently Asked Questions

The body you once knew so well begins rebelling, making simple tasks feel like you just ran a marathon. Day-to-day endeavors like dressing and bathing seem impossible. Tackling stairs could end in tragedy. This may be the reality of someone you love, and knowing how to address the situation can be a difficult burden. Your loved one might need more care than you can provide, making assisted living the best option. If this is the case, you have an even more difficult and painful responsibility, speaking to your loved one about assisted living. Here are some helpful tips to make the conversation easier for all involved.

A nurse speaking with a patient at assisted living facility. She's holding a clipboard.

How do I convince my elderly parents to move to an assisted living facility?

The goal of the assisted living conversation is not to convince your loved one of anything. It is to discuss why assisted living is the best option while allowing them the right to make their own decisions. When tackling tough topics, it is important to remember your approach to the conversation can be the determining factor.  

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Start the conversation early

This is a conversation you don’t want to drag your feet on. Waiting to broach the subject until it is the only option could end poorly. No one wants to feel forced into a life-altering decision overnight. 

Stay calm 

If assisted living for your parents is the best option to ensure safety and care, it is understandable you would be anxious about discussing it. Remember that the conversation doesn’t just cause you anxiety but your loved ones as well. Aging is scary, and the conversation of assisted living often means a decline in their ability to care for themselves. So stay calm and approach the subject with your loved ones’ well-being in mind. 

Keep in mind this is not a one-and-done conversation

This event is akin to the five stages of grief, and many individuals experience every step before agreeing that a skilled nursing facility is in their best interest. Be aware that you will likely have multiple conversations on the topic before making decisions.

Involve family

You do not want to bombard your family member with several others when first approaching the topic; however, you also don’t want to be the only individual discussing it, as it can cause the association of negative feelings to one individual. Before the conversations get underway, discuss with other family members and ensure that your concerns align with one another. If they do not, one may undermine the other.

Expect that it will be emotional

Understand that this is an emotional process. You may not agree with your loved one’s opinion, but that does not mean it is invalid. Your loved one is entitled to their feelings, and understanding and accepting that will help you get through it.

Be present and actively listen

Don’t fall into old habits by arguing or displaying indifference. This is a life-altering event and should be treated as such. Listen to their concerns and acknowledge their feelings without projecting or creating conflict. Your aging loved one isn’t being difficult; the situation is difficult, so listen to understand their fears and concerns.

Provide positivity and support while still understanding how difficult this is

Be supportive and compassionate toward your loved one. This is more difficult than you might think for one to undergo. 

Be ready to provide specific information

As conversations shift toward the consent for assisted living, your loved one is going to have questions. Be prepared to have answers. Telling them you don’t know isn’t going to sway them toward the idea; get the information you need to answer the questions they will inevitably have.  

Be kind and respectful

If your loved one feels attacked or like they are losing control of their right to make their own decisions, the conversation will likely turn sour very quickly. When having this conversation, always be kind and respectful. Acknowledge their feelings even if you may disagree with them. 

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How long does it take for a person to adjust to assisted living?

There is no definitive answer on how long it takes someone to adjust to assisted living. However, with identity-forming conversations, social networks, and family support, individuals can cope successfully with their new living arrangements. Furthermore, it is reported that it takes an average of 3-6 months for an individual to adjust to assisted living.

What happens if an elderly person has no one to care for them? 

A nurse holding the hand of a patient within an assisted living facility.

It is typical that when a parent ages, their children step in and serve as primary caregivers and help make arrangements. Unfortunately, not all seniors have family to lean on as they age. When this happens, there are a number of avenues that can be taken. Depending on the individual and their ability to care for themselves, they may choose to live alone. If competency is in question, someone may be appointed to coordinate their care. Each state has its own programs and resources for aging individuals without family.

Aging is inevitable; it is a part of life no one is excused from, but it causes feelings of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. It typically comes with physical and cognitive decline, making caring for oneself very difficult, if not impossible. At Haven Health, we have dedicated ourselves to providing the care and support aging individuals need to successfully transition into receiving skilled care. Our compassionate team of professionals ensures our residents are cared for with kindness, compassion, and dignity as they navigate their new reality. Contact us today and discover our client-centered approach to skilled care.


Koepp, R. (2021). How to Support Elderly Parents Moving to Assisted Living

Riedl, M., et al. (2013). Being a Nursing Home Resident: A Challenge to One’s Identity.

Span, P. (2022). Who Will Care for Kinless Seniors?