How to Start a Conversation with Your Aging Parents About Their Needs

Senior woman and adult son hugging sitting together on bench in park

As our parents age, they will require more and more support to maintain their health and wellbeing.

Tasks that used to be simple, like grocery shopping or cleaning the house, can become too much for them to handle on their own. But what happens when your parents aren’t willing to accept help?

Many of us find ourselves in a position where we know our parents need assistance, but we’re not sure how to approach the subject. This can be an incredibly challenging conversation to have, but it’s one that is necessary to provide our loved ones with the support and care they need.

In this blog post, we’ll share some tips and strategies for starting a conversation with your parents about their needs as they age.

1. Choose the Right Time and Place

Bringing up the subject needing help can be a sensitive topic for both you and your parents. It’s important to choose a time and place that is comfortable and non-threatening. Avoid discussing this topic during family holidays or significant events that may cause additional stress.

Instead, consider starting the conversation during a casual outing, a weekend brunch, or a quiet moment at home. Make sure you have plenty of time to listen to their concerns and avoid any distractions.

2. Acknowledge Your Parents’ Independence

It’s important to approach this conversation with empathy and understanding. Your parent may feel like accepting help is a sign of weakness or that they’re losing their independence.

Start the conversation by acknowledging their desire for independence. Let them know that you see how hard they’re working to maintain their household, and that you want to help them find a way to preserve that independence while also getting the support they need. By starting the conversation from a place of respect, you’ll be more likely to get a positive response.

3. Listen to Their Needs and Wants

Encourage an open dialogue. Let your mom or dad know that you are there to support them in any way possible. Once you’ve established a respectful tone, start to talk about the specific issues that are causing you concern. For example, maybe you’ve noticed that your mom is struggling to keep up with her housework, or your dad’s mobility is declining. It can be helpful to frame this as a problem that you want to help solve together.

Ask them what their current needs are, what they are struggling with, and what they envision for their future. Actively listen to their answers. Don’t assume that you already know what they need, and avoid imposing your own opinions or beliefs on them. Encourage them to make a list of things they could use assistance with. Everyone has different preferences and priorities, and it’s essential to honor their choices as much as possible.

4. Normalize Outside Assistance

Sometimes, the idea of outside help can feel like an invasion of privacy. Your parents might feel uncomfortable with the idea of a stranger coming into their home. It can be helpful to normalize this idea by pointing out that many people rely on outside assistance as they age – it’s not something to be ashamed of.

You might share stories of other people who have used in-home or home care services, and how it’s made a positive impact on their lives. By framing the conversation as a normal part of the aging process, you’re helping your parents feel like they’re not alone in this experience.

5. Make a Plan Together

Once you’ve established that outside assistance is an option, it’s time to start making a plan. Research different care services or talk to a doctor or social worker about your parents’ needs. It’s important to involve your parents in this process, so they feel like they have a say in what happens next.

You might start by evaluating the list of tasks or activities that your parents need help with, and work together to find a solution for each one. Collaborate on your plans to ensure that your parents have a sense of ownership and control over their care.

6. Get Help from Professionals

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure about how to proceed, know that you don’t have to do this alone. There are many professionals who can help guide you through this process, including our team at NorthEast Independent Living Services (NEILS).

Our experts can provide specialized advice and support, as well as identify resources that you might not have known about on your own. We offer various home care and in-home services, including Consumer-Directed services, In-Home services, and Veteran services. Some of the activities we assist with include:

  • Personal Care
  • Meal Preparation
  • Shopping & Errands
  • Nurse Visits
  • Diabetic Nail Care
  • Medication Set-Ups
  • Respite Care
  • Bathing & Dressing
  • Transportation
  • Medication Reminders
  • Companionship
  • Housekeeping
  • Essential Transportation
  • Toileting
  • Laundry

You don’t have to navigate this challenging conversation or process by yourself. We can help.


By following these tips and strategies, you can start a conversation with your parents about their needs as they age. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it’s one that’s essential for everyone’s wellbeing.

Remember to approach the conversation with empathy and understanding. Acknowledge your parents’ growing needs and work together to find a solution that works for everyone.

If you’d like to learn more about alternative elder care options to a nursing home, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at NEILS. We offer in-home and home care services that prioritize the needs of your aging parents. Our goal is to help provide them with the support and care they need to age with dignity, independence, and peace of mind. Contact us today for more information.

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