How to Have Difficult Conversations with Elderly Parents About Their Care Needs


It’s hard to watch your parents grow old. Harder yet to realize they can no longer take care of themselves. Unfortunately, arranging for long-term senior care is a difficult and very expensive process that can easily become overwhelming. 

In this article, we look at how you can make that process a little bit easier. Read on to learn more about how you can talk to your elderly parents about getting long-term care. 

Start Sooner Rather Than Later

Naturally, this advice will only apply if you are relatively early on in the process. Ideally, though, you will be able to start planning for your parent’s elder care needs before they actually become dependent on others. 

Securing care for your elderly parent will require an enormous amount of research. It’s hard under the best of circumstances but can feel almost impossible if you are also trying to provide care for your parent while you do it. 

And of course, the more restrictive your budget, the harder it becomes to find a suitable solution for your needs. Starting early comes with several benefits:

  • Insurance options may be better: Long-term care coverage isn’t always open to elderly enrollment. Regardless, it is an option that is worth exploring, and if you start working on it while your parents are still healthy, it improves your odds of getting coverage. 
  • You’ll be able to involve your parent in the process: It’s easy to see long-term care as a bunch of boxes that need to be checked. Does insurance approve? Does it fit our budget? Will this provider be able to take care of my parent’s needs? And while these things are important, it’s equally critical to remember that your parents’ lives are being completely upended. The more you can involve them in the decision-making process, the better their spirits will be when it comes time to activate the plan. 

It’s a deeply uncomfortable situation, and it makes sense why you wouldn’t want to begin any sooner than you have to. However, if you can get the ball rolling early, it may result in major benefits for your parents later on down the line. 

Get All Hands on Deck

If you have brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. that will want to be involved in the decision-making process, it’s time to get all hands on deck. The person with power of attorney will ultimately be the one to call the shots. 

However, getting everyone’s input early on can help reduce the risk of arguments and fighting later on. Plus, it will also just keep you from handling all of this by yourself. Securing long-term care for an elderly family member is emotionally draining work. Having a little bit of help can make a big difference in your emotional well-being. 

Choose the Right Setting

This will probably be a difficult conversation for your parents. You can help them along by choosing an appropriate setting for the conversation. Pick an environment where they will feel comfortable and relaxed.

You want them to feel like they can be completely open and honest. The conversation setting may have a big influence on how possible this is. 

Be Patient

Once the conversation actually starts, patience will be key. Your parents will have questions, complaints, protests. Your job is to listen to them with patience. 

It’s a good idea to introduce the thought of elderly care casually. Not like, “Hey, you know what I thought of when I passed by the nursing home today? You two!”.

But if you can mention to your parents that you would like to have a conversation about long-term care with them in the near future, it gives them time to organize their thoughts and prepare a response. If you spring the idea on them suddenly, they may feel ambushed, and consequently, less likely to comply. 

Giving them time is a courtesy that will pay off for everyone in the long run. 

Live in the Discomfort

Are you a parent?

As a matter of fact—

It’s ok. It was a rhetorical question. If you are a parent, you know that a big part of your job is to be a buffer between your child and the harder, grown-up aspects of your family life. That doesn’t mean that you shield them from the truth. It does mean you bear the emotional burden of what is going on. 

If money is tight, your kids might know about it, but you do what you can to ensure they aren’t the ones worrying about it. That’s what you’re there for, and it’s the same role your parents probably played for you when you were a child. 

They lived in the discomfort of life’s great challenges so that you wouldn’t have to. Well, now the foot is on the other foot. Dealing with elderly care the right way means not flinching from something that is scary and heavy, and painful. You may soften the blow, or frame it in a way that makes it sound less titanic than it actually is. 


Here’s what’s happening. Your parent is losing their independence. They are leaving behind their home, and probably any trace of the person they recognize as themselves. It’s an enormous life event. The temptation may be to frame it differently. For your parents’ sake, however, you shouldn’t. Acknowledge that it is difficult. Let your parents feel what they need to feel about it, and be there for them in whatever way you can. 

Try Not to Apply Too Much Pressure

You and your parents may have a very different perspectives on what sort of care they need. While you may feel very strongly about your ideas, it’s important not to apply too much pressure. When it comes time to implement a care strategy, you want to make sure that your parents feel completely on board. 

If you strong-arm them into your preferred solution, that will never happen. Instead, listen to what they have to say, and work to find a solution that appeases everyone. It won’t be easy, but it could make a big difference in their experience.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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play snake
10 months ago

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10 months ago

Always take care of them.