Parents can be stubborn if they want to. Even when you ask out of love to help your aging parent relocate to a place where they will receive proper care, they resist. Many elderly people see assisted living as an affront to their privacy, independence or even dignity. A few years back, when I asked my parents to consider a retirement home, they instead bought a property in Oklahoma City with a pool and adopted a Shih Tzu a month later.
Since then, they’ve fallen several times, though mostly just resulting in scrapes and bruises which is bad enough. But one hot summer afternoon, dad got home feeling light-headed and made it half way up the stairs before collapsing. That’s when I knew I had to take action for my parents’ health and safety.
Our talk at the hospital about assisted living was the last one we had on the matter, and they moved shortly thereafter. I don’t want anyone to have to see their parents endure a life-threatening accident before they reconsider living alone. If your parents too are refusing senior care, you can do the following to persuade them otherwise.
- Empathize with their reasons for resisting. Find out their concerns and talk about them openly. As long as they are shielded on those points, they aren’t moving, for fearing of accidentally exposing their vulnerabilities. They might find those big hairy reasons for not seeking proper care were just excuses meant to protect their pride, only putting their safety at risk.
- Respect their wishes even when they seem petty. Moving to a new place is a big deal for seniors, especially if they don’t feel in control of their destiny. There are bound to be a number of compromises they’ll have to make, so don’t force them into anything they simply will not stand, provided they are complicit in the move in general.
- Find out who they will listen to. Grandkids have a way of making their grandparents understand in ways their adult children cannot. Perhaps it’s their bold honesty; perhaps it’s the realization that kids don’t judge people for acting on their needs. It simply is and kids can accept that. The Oklahoma City center we chose is close enough that the grandkids can visit daily after school.
- Make the benefits relatable. Assisted living can really make golden years, well, golden. You get waited on, cared for, 24-hour medical care, the opportunity to explore hobbies, socialize with people you can relate to. It really is a good deal above and beyond the fact that their health and safety are covered. Simply show them the many upsides of the entire experience.
- Treat them like adults. Being told you can’t take care of yourself is a massive blow to one’s dignity. Your parents raised you; they took care of you when you couldn’t; they’ve spent decades building a role they are now expected to flip. Getting them involved in choosing the senior care option that’s right for them is an excellent way to advance the conversation.