By John Francis

THE transition from living independently, to being cared for in a retirement community is
certainly not an easy one for your elderly parents and is often highly charged with emotions.
Their beloved family and caregivers are often reluctant to broach this topic or have an open
conversation with them about leaving their current home, despite the fact that mobility
challenges, illnesses, vulnerability to criminals, and cognitive decline make living alone
independently for them an unsafe option.

Under these circumstances, you, the family members, and caregivers can make a deliberate,
honest, and empathetic approach to help your elderly parents accept and embrace the
opportunity to live in a supportive, safe, and welcoming environment with others their age
before anything untoward actually happens. Follow the tips below to make approaching this
topic a little easier for you and your beloved elderly parents.

When to Have the Conversation
Senior living communities are care facilities for long term living, ranging from retirement
communities, to assisted living, to nursing homes (actual Long Term Care homes). Assess
your elderly parents’ needs to determine which is the best residential option for them
because it is better to be aware of their potential caregiving needs before an emergency

If you are alert to their gradual signs of physical and cognitive decline, you will have the time
to choose the best option for them, rather than rush headlong into this important decision.
If you see them regularly, these declines will be more evident to you. However, if you live in
another town, you may have to rely on your close friends and neighbours to learn of
changes in their abilities or behaviours. So, watch out for these changes in your elderly
parents, to know when it is time to consider senior care:

1. Do they withdraw from social interactions?
2. Do they forget to take their medications?
3. Are they experiencing persistent mood changes?
4. Are they refusing medical attention?
5. Do they leave the stove unattended?
6. Are they neglecting personal hygiene?
7. Are they hoarding items?
8. Are they neglecting basic housekeeping needs?
9. Are they acting or speaking in a confused manner?
10. Are they wearing unsuitable clothing for the weather?
11. Equally, are they wearing the same clothing over and over?
12. Do they struggle with tasks requiring a higher level of thinking such as paying bills, or
using a smartphone, microwave or remote control?
13. Do they drive unsafely, or get lost while driving?
14. Do they have difficulty performing Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as eating,
bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, getting out of bed, and seated positions?

How to Prepare for the Conversation
Plan for the conversation with your elderly parents by keeping all family decision-makers in
the loop when establishing the time, place, and content of the conversation, to avoid
unnecessary conflicts. Though this decision will ultimately affect each family member, the
first conversation should be all about your elderly parent in need of care.
If there are ongoing conflicts in the family, recruit help from your parents’ healthcare
provider to arrive at the best fact-based decision for their ongoing care. Solva can help with
thorough research on the type of senior living residence you are you are proposing and can get you details about services offered, the availability, and costs.

Setting the Tone for the Conversation
Ideally, the conversation should begin casually and over a period of time as you and other
family members notice causes for concern. Introducing the idea of a move gradually will
surprise and upset your elderly parents less, while making the definitive conversation.
The fear of losing their independence besides many other reasons, makes the elderly
apprehensive about leaving their current nest. You must keep this perspective in mind while
approaching the conversation with empathy. Support from other family members will ease
tensions and help make informed decisions.

How to Plan Ahead for the Conversation
Decide what the setting should be and who will broach the subject with your parents, when
planning for this conversation. Also, whether to have this conversation on a one-to-one basis
or in the presence of other families will depend on the nature and preferences of your

Because, sometimes the decision to have a family meeting may backfire, as they may feel
they are being ganged up against. Choosing a family member trusted by them to start the
conversation, may help you avoid this outcome.

How to Keep the Conversation Going

More probable than not, moving to a retirement community will not be a one-time topic of
conversation. It will take the due course of time, and during this transition, the patience,
honesty, and openness of yourself and other family members will encourage your elderly
parents to participate in the process and accept the ultimate decision.

There may be disagreements over the specifics of care, but try to keep everyone on the
same page when introducing the idea of moving to a senior living community. Initially, your
elderly parents may resist accepting the idea of a move and the change it entails, but over
the course of time, they will come to accept that the decision is in their best interests.
You have to be patient because ultimately the decision is going to be theirs if they are
mentally sound. Before an eventuality occurs, the conversation, if started early, will allow
both you and your elderly parents to find time to arrive at the best solution, and the window
for being comfortably placed in a senior living facility best suited for them.

If your elderly parents are very emotionally attached to their home and the independence
they have enjoyed so far, this may derail your discussion. Take the help of experts they are
likely to trust such as an attorney, a doctor, a clergy member, a friend, or our team at Solva,
to put things in perspective as they will be knowledgeable and objective in their approach.

The Way Forward
Once you arrive at a mutually acceptable decision to move them to a senior living
community, we can help. The Solva team are experts in all things seniors housing related
including care supports, community care options, private agency and referrals to other
services. Our help and guidance is 100% free of charge, and we are here to support you as
much or as little as you need throughout your journey.

For a no obligation chat about retirement living and different community options, reach
out to us at 613-421-6073 or (Ottawa) and 647-847-4719 (Toronto)