Talking through sensitive subjects is vital to wellbeing and it’s easier to talk about things and make important decisions when you are not faced with an immediate crisis or issue. Here are some top tips to getting off to a good start.

Preparation is key

It takes courage to start a difficult conversation, so think about what you want to say and who to speak to first. What do you hope to achieve? What would be an ideal outcome? Do a little research to support your points, there is plenty of information on the internet, including on our website, alternatively you could call a care or housing provider such as Anchor, to find out more.

Find the right time

Pick a time when you won’t be interrupted so avoid favourite TV programmes, family events, times when others are visiting or when you’re in a hurry. Listen for cues - perhaps a family member or friend is going through the same thing or there is something you could read that can create an opportunity to start the conversation.

How to open

Work out how to break the ice, you might try: “I’d like to talk about something with you, but first I’d like to get your point of view. Is now a good time?” Try not to rush the conversation. Our Conversation starters might give you some ideas.


Show that you’ve heard and understood. Focus on their views so you can explain back to them later how you’ve understood their words. Encourage them to open up.

Share and support

When you sense the person has said all they want to, it’s your turn to share your point of view. What can you see from your perspective that they may have missed? Clarify how you feel and share your concerns.

Ask questions

Resist giving advice or defining the plan. Focus on enabling a loved one to arrive at what matters most to them and what they are concerned about. Ask what do they really want? What are the things that are most important to them? What are their concerns? Once you’ve asked these questions, it’s crucial to listen and acknowledge the answers.

Next steps

Let the dust settle. Reassure each other that your intentions are good. Perhaps take note of the key points discussed and mull over them in your own time. Continue the conversation at another time or explore the options which arose in your first conversation to work towards the right solution.

Working through these tips should help you and your loved ones feel more confident about discussing the care and retirement living options that are best for you. Talking about the future is the first proactive step towards making positive choices and planning for later life.

Download our free Grey Matters guide to planning for later life (1.88MB)

Find out more about Anchor’s Grey Matters initiative to get the nation talking about later life