MANAGING RESISTANT PARENTS
Barry Jacobs, PsyD, a psychologist who has counseled many people in the situation of moving elderly parents, knows how difficult it can be when a parent in need of aging parent care refuses to leave his or her home. While he's quick to say there are no magic strategies or tricks for persuading an elder to move, he suggests that adult children ask their parent to "indulge" them by visiting an assisted living facility.
"Most of us are more likely to change our position and lifestyle if such a transformation is of our own choosing," writes Jacobs in his book, The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers (Guilford Press, 2006). "Placed under duress to change, we typically resist, regardless of the soundness of the other person's arguments."
And when a parent continually refuses to entertain the idea of moving? "The child needs to back off for the time being," advises Jacobs. But don't give up, he adds, "seek other openings to raise the issue again."
"What I tell adult children is that, unfortunately, sometimes things have to get worse to get better," he says. "It may take the parent falling or being spooked by burglars or having the electricity turned off because he forgot to pay the bills for the realization to dawn that the parent can no longer safely reside in the home. Even then, it may take the strong urgings of health care providers and extended family members for the parent to accept the inevitable."
If the parent begins to show signs of warming up to the topic, "the child needs to emphasize the parent's right of self-determination but also urge action," adds Jacobs. He suggests structuring the conversation in the following way: "Tell your parent: 'I can't make decisions about how you should run your life. It would make me feel better, though, if we could go together to look at some possible assisted living facilities so that you're better informed about what choices are available. Would you be willing to humor me in that way?'"
If there is a willingness on the parent's part to visit a senior housing facility, says Jacobs, "the child should proceed post-haste to set up visits at local facilities and point out that most of these facilities will allow an aged individual to try living in them for a week or a month before the person has to decide whether to sell his house and stay in the facility or return home." Experts say that can be the extra bit of comfort that can make the difference for many hesitant seniors.
FORMING A CAREGIVING TEAM
"Caregiving is a family affair," says Henry. That's even more reason to gather your brothers, sisters, children and uncles and aunts together to address an ailing loved ones needs. "Have a meeting and discuss the problem, without the parent present," says Henry.
For families who have geographic barriers, The National Association of Senior Move Managers can help. Senior Move Managers are professional experts available to guide a family through the transition's emotional and physical aspects.