You’ve noticed that your dad or mom is having difficulty with some of his or her daily activities, such as cooking, dressing, and medication management. But you’ve been putting off having a conversation about assisted living communities because you’re afraid of how your aging loved one might react. It’s natural to feel anxious about having this conversation with your aging parents. Use these tips to help you talk to your parents about long-term care options.

Gather Information: Gather information about the long-term care options in your area. Research the cost of each as well as resources that could help your parents pay for them. Inquire about your parents’ financial situation. Do they have long-term care insurance? Having solid information to present your parents during conversations about their long-term care plan will help everyone make good decisions.

Talk About Your Wishes for Long-Term Care: You can start a conversation about assisted living with your aging loved one by sharing your own wishes for long-term care for yourself with your parents. This is a good way to get your loved one to think about and express her own wishes for long-term care. If it’s possible, talk with your parents about their wishes while they are still in good health rather than when they are in the middle of a health crisis.

Include Him in the Conversation: It’s not a good idea to approach your loved one as though you’ve already made a decision for him. Rather, discuss assisted living as one option that’s available to your loved one – an option that could make life easier, less stressful, and more fun. Listen to your loved one’s feelings and thoughts, and make him feel that he has a part in the decision-making process.

Have an Open and Ongoing Dialog: Don’t try to make all the decisions with your aging parents about their long-term care plan in one day. Rather, have an open and ongoing dialog with them about their wishes, and take your time in making decisions. Starting the conversation when your parents are still relatively healthy will give you and your parents the time you need to make a solid long-term care plan.

Choose an Appropriate Time: These serious conversations take time, so don’t start one if you need to head home within the next 10 minutes. Be mindful of when and where you bring up the topic of assisted living. For instance, a family gathering at the holidays would not be a good time to discuss such a serious topic.

Take Some Tours: Offer to take your parents on some tours of assisted living communities in your area. While you’re there, talk to current residents about their experiences, observe activities, and talk to the staff about what care they provide. Allowing them to get a feel for what the community is like will help your parents make a decision about their long-term care.

Starting the conversation about assisted living with your aging parents will be challenging. However, once you begin to talk about it, further conversations about long-term care options will become easier. Using these tips, you can have productive conversations and formulate a long-term care plan for your parents as a family.