by Alan Cranford – Office Manager
If we’re honest, most of us resist change. It’s uncomfortable. It’s full of uncertainty. Sometimes it’s frightening. No wonder our elderly parents often resist moving from a home they’ve known for years into a place that—regardless of how nice it is—is foreign to them. So what can you do if you have an elderly parent that should no longer live alone, but is resistant to the idea of a retirement community?
One of the keys to successfully discussing this topic with a parent is to start the conversation early. As you continue to talk, your parent will find phrases such as “retirement community” less threatening. In addition, make your conversations about your parent’s future regular. When you do that, don’t tell your parents what to do (unless they specifically ask you to do so). Involve them in the conversation. And remember: They don’t think they have a “problem.” Make it your problem (“Mom, I’m concerned about what I see. Will you help me figure out what to do?”). Parents who might not make a move for their own benefit will sometimes do so to help their children.
All of us resist changing our lifestyle if it’s somebody else’s idea. Our parents are no different. It doesn’t matter how good your arguments are or how sound your logic is. If it’s your parent’s idea to move you’ll have a much greater chance of success.
Most aging parents are not eager to visit a retirement center. Many of them have images of old “nursing homes” in which neglected old people were wheeled out into the hall and left for hours at a time. That’s a hard stereotype to overcome. What you can do, however, is to ask your parent to visit with you for your sake. If you tell them it will make you feel better, you’ll have a better chance of getting them to take a look. And if they agree to a visit (even if it’s not a completely enthusiastic response), move quickly to set up an appointment.
One prominent counselor for aging parents and their adult children says that 95 percent of her clients come to her in crisis situations. Something dramatic has happened and the parents and children are now in crisis mode. At Daystar, we can confirm that. Many of our residents (actually, their children) make initial contact with us after a significant event (a fall, or an illness). When you’re in crisis mode, it’s hard to have a calm rational conversation. If, however, you have the ability to start early and move slowly, you’ll meet with less resistance.What are your biggest questions and concerns regarding talking to your parents about a possible move to a retirement community?