How to Talk to an Aging Loved One About Moving

Senior woman standing outside front door of house
05 Apr 2018

It may be one of the hardest conversations you will ever need to have with an aging family member or friend. It’s the conversation about moving from their home, the home they likely have known for many, many years, and asking them to consider transitioning into a continuing care retirement community (CCRC).

There are many challenges you face: the fear of the unknown, desire to maintain independence, confusion and outright refusal are just a few. It’s emotionally hard to have a conversation like this because you want them to know this is coming from a place of love and care for them, even if it does not appear that way to them.

Are there effective strategies you can use to begin this conversation? Absolutely! We want to share with you five tips for carefully handling this conversation to achieve the best possible outcome. Take a look!

Start the conversation early.

It’s smart to look ahead to your loved ones next 5, 10 or 15 years and to begin planning for a time when they may need additional helping taking care of themselves. For some, it’s a gradual decline of mental or physical health that calls for additional care. For others, an accident or illness can quickly accelerate the need for such care far sooner than you expect it.

By planning ahead, and beginning to have a series of “What if..” or “When…” conversations with your loved one, you will be able to plant the seeds that will grow into the more serious conversations to come.

Ask for their opinion – and listen!

In those initial conversations, be sure to directly ask your loved one where they envision themselves in 5, 10 or 15 years. It’s common that they would want to stay in their home as long as they are able to safely do so. However, when faced with the dilemma of needing professional care, you may be surprised by their preferences. For example, you may think they would want an in-home caregiver, while they may prefer to move to a retirement community where they can enjoy more social interaction and independence. Be sure to ask for their opinion, and most importantly, listen!

Be clear about the benefits.

Your loved one may list many hesitations or concerns about moving out of their home. That’s very common and understandable. To facilitate the conversation, be prepared to present the many benefits that come with moving into a CCRC. They may overlook the fact that this type of living will allow them greater independence, safety, social opportunities and care that can be tailored exactly to their ever-changing needs. Clearly communicate the benefits to be sure they understand what it means to their lifestyle.

Include them in the search process.

When you’re ready to begin creating a short list of your favorite retirement communities or CRCC’s, be sure to include your loved one in the process. Encourage them to select properties they wish to see or learn more about. You might be surprised by how many of the same properties you each have on your list! The more involved your loved one feels, the more they will feel like it’s their decision to move out of their home.

Find areas of compromise.

Finally and most importantly, be open to compromise. You may think you know what is best for your loved one or you may have a particular option that is your favorite, but be aware that they will need to live with this decision every day. Therefore, if there is a certain feature or aspect about their new living situation that they desire, be willing to comprise to help them have this. If you can compromise on a few small things, you are more likely to come to an agreement on the bigger things that will impact you both.

Are you currently in a situation where you need to talk to an aging loved one about moving into a continuing care retirement community, or something similar? It can be challenging, but also a wonderful change that can increase quality of life! If you have any additional tips or questions, please share them by leaving a comment below.

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