Imagine this: Your parent calls you one day and says: “Honey, I’ve been thinking that it’s about time I move to move into an assisted living community.” And then you wake up and discover it was a dream!
Most of the time, our parents have objections, many of which are grounded in fear and lack of information, that creates resistance to moving into a new community. The responses can run the gamut from “Hell, no, I won’t go!” to “I’ll think about it (procrastination).”
What’s an adult child to do? For starters, put yourself in your parent’s shoes to understand why their objections make perfect sense to them. Here are some of the most common objections that adult children hear (you are not alone!):
Fear of losing their independence and giving up control. “Many older people see themselves as proud survivors,” says clinical psychologist Donna Cohen. “They think ‘I’ve been through good times and bad, so I’ll be fine on my own (living at home).” After all, they’ve lived 60 to 70 to 80 years without anyone’s help, why should they start now?
Resistance to the reversal of roles. Elders may be embarrassed as you become “the parent,” and they become “the child.” For many years, they did the best they could to take care of you, and may be unprepared for you taking care of them. They want to maintain their independence and continue to make their own decisions (not listen to their child!).
“I can’t afford moving to an assisted living community.” This is an example of where solid information helps. Seniors may believe that it is cheaper to live at home without ever having done a financial comparison of monthly home ownership vs. the monthly fee at a community. With the numbers in hand, some people are surprised by the equity in their home that could be put to better use if they sold.
Facing their own mortality. “Even if they know it’s the right thing and good for them, it’s not easy to acknowledge that you’re at the twilight of your life. You’re facing your own mortality,” says Sheri Samotin, president of LifeBridge Solutions. Consider the real fear and apprehension this may bring up for your elder. The reality is that this may be their “final home,” which makes the selection process even more important.
Tips: Experts advise acknowledging and affirming your loved one’s objections. After all, who doesn’t like to be heard? Another suggestion is to repeat their objections back to them; they may seem bigger in their head than when repeated out loud. Patience is also a prerequisite for everyone’s sake; the emotions involved are real for all concerned. And lastly, do your homework. Being prepared will allow you answer questions in a calm, respectful tone so that parents are more apt to hear your suggestions.