For many adult children, it gradually becomes obvious thatmom and dad aren’t safe living at home alone. Small signs begin to add up— scorched pots from meals that have been forgotten on the stove, dirty laundry that has piled up for weeks, burned out bulbs that have never been replaced.
It’s a realization that’s fraught with anxiety— these grown daughters and sons find that they have no idea what to do when they are thrown into the role of caregiver.
A lot of concerned children of aging parents will attempt to ease transition by offering a move into the child’s home, where care can be provided by family members. But few seniors relish the prospect of moving away from their homes and into an assisted living situation, even if that assistance is provided by a caregiving child.
So what if your parent keeps resisting a move to your home?
Sometimes, that does happen. You need to be calmly and gently persistent. But you also need to know when to ease off. Leave the invitation open and look for the right openings to broach the topic again.
If, for example, your mom mentions to you that grocery shopping and cooking for herself are becoming a real chore or that cleaning the bathroom leaves her knees sore for the rest of the day, you might remind her that an offer to move her in with you is on the table.
And it may be that your parent has to learn a hard lesson before he or she will consider change. It’s interesting how life can come full circle— just like you might have learned that riding your bike in gravel may cause you to fall, and thus you learned not to do so, a parent might learn that continuing to live unassisted in a cluttered home might result in a scary fall, and that they need more help.
Give your parent as many options as possible.
It’s important that your parents are not made to feel as if they are losing control of life decisions. Make sure that you lay out all of the options— in-home services, an assisted living community, moving into your home— though you can, of course, make what you believe to be the best choice seem like the most attractive option.
And as with most difficult choices, it’s best not to beat around the bush.
Be frank in bringing up your concerns about a memory lapse, but don’t take the choice away from your parent. Say, “Dad, I’m worried about your memory and these falls you’ve been having recently. I think you need a little more help. Should we start talking with your doctor about whether you need to consider assisted living? Or maybe you’d like to try moving in with me for a while so that I can make sure you’re getting everything you need? I’m happy to provide input, but I’d like to know your thoughts.”
Make sure everybody is on the same page.
If you have siblings who would want to be involved, make sure that you consult them and that you all present a unified front to your parents. The worst thing you can do is to appear inconsistent or to argue in front of your parent.
You also need to make sure that your parent designates a healthcare power of attorney and fills out advance directives and a living will. That way, there will be clear expectations and clear leadership for any future care decisions.
During this time, bear in mind that this is likely a stressful situation for you and your aging parent. But using these powerful tools to persuade your parent of the best course of action, you will make sure that your parents are safe and have the care and the caregivers they most need.