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When Discussing Senior Living Options With a Parent, Don’t Force Him or Her to Take Your Suggestions

My prospects were a 45 year old baby boomer and her mother. Her mom lived in her own home where the neighborhood wasn’t changing for the better. The mother was 78 years old, totally ambulatory, mentally alert, and had Parkinson’s disease. The daughter lived in a suburb that was a 45 minute drive from her mother’s home.

When they came for a tour at the community where I worked at the time, the mother was already crying piteously, exclaiming that she didn’t want to leave the home where she had lived with her husband for 50 years. In almost the same breath, she told me she had been mugged in her home and wasn’t socializing, taking her medications, or eating properly. She and her daughter argued about issues regarding the safety of the neighborhood, the mother’s physical and mental well-being, and the need for more care once the Parkinson’s disease had progressed. We completed the first tour, Mom crying the entire time while I showed her the beautiful chapel, the dining room, and the exercise class where the independent residents were having a wonderful time. As they left, I doubted that I would see them again.

Two months later, they reappeared for a second tour. I invited them to stay for lunch, a suggestion I make to all my clients since the food needs to agree with your loved one. The scenario was a repeat of the last trip, including arguments regarding the mother’s safety at home, her reluctance to move from her home of 50 years, and her fear of losing her independence.

I assured her that moving to a community would enhance her independence, since she would no longer have to cook, clean, or worry. I suggested that she should view the new environment as a vacation. She would be able to do whatever she wanted. At the end of the second tour, she was crying a lot less.

Another two months passed, and they came back again. I decided that I would need to take a chance on another technique to help open the senior’s mind to moving. I had her talk alone with one of the most vocal (not always positive but happy), independent, active residents who was a widow who had moved under similar circumstances. After several hours of talking alone, the two of them emerged and walked around the community, had lunch together with several of the other residents, and played bingo at the afternoon activity.

My next suggestion was that the senior take a trial stay for a week. That is a suggestion I always make to my independent clients so they can kick the tires, try the food, and experience congregate living. The stay went well and I received the green light that she was ready to move.

The daughter was elated. She selected a large room for her mom and installed new carpet. The furniture was moved and the pictures were hung prior to her move. When she arrived, nothing needed to be done.

From that day forward, the senior attended every activity on a daily basis and became the community socialite. After the New Year’s Eve party, I saw her doing dance steps in the hallway and waving her cane in the air.

Please keep a few things in mind. When having the conversation about a move with an elderly parent, try to see it from his or her point of view. It will be a long emotional process, and sometimes it may take a life-changing event to convince the senior it’s time. However, if you involve your relative in the process, and don’t force the issue, the ending to your story may be as happy as this one.

I can help you and your loved one through the transition with lots of experience and evidence-based suggestions. Contact me to set up a consultation:

andrea-donovan100Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors
361 Nuttall Road Riverside, IL 60546 708-442-7174 708-415-2934 (cell)