HELPING YOUR AGING PARENTS GET WHAT THEY TRULY WANT
In last month\’s article we looked at an actual client situation of mine – family members who were genuinely concerned about their 93-year old mother. They wanted their mother to be safe and secure and “well taken care of” – as did their mother. Conflicts arose, however, as to how to achieve what was really in her best interest – so much conflict, in fact, that their mother had refused to speak to them. Unfortunately, this kind of impasse often happens when each “side” stakes their claim to a specific solution and are unable to conceive of other options or even shades of gray.
Once the family reopened the lines of communication and got their mother to do the exercise “What I Want For the Third ½ of My Life”, the next task was to help the family see that they actually agreed with their mother on the core, shared goals – that their mother be safe and secure and “well taken care of”. At that point, they were able to brainstorm and come up with some creative options that satisfied everyone\’s concerns and needs. From there, the family and I worked together to create a long-term plan as well as several interim contingency plans and I coached them on the most effective way to present and discuss it with their mother. Here\’s what they all agreed to:
~ She will stay in her own home and 2 of her great-grandchildren will live with her while they attend a college nearby.
~ In exchange, these great grandchildren will help her with the house-hold chores and will teach her how to use the computer so she can explore genealogy websites and research her family history – a long-held secret desire
~ If and when more care is needed, she will hire a home care aide
~ To combat loneliness, she will go to the local senior center during the week
~ When the 2 great-grandchildren graduate from college, she will move into an assisted living community near her family.
~ With the help of her family, she will sort through and distribute her belongings
As it turns out, several members of her family are also interested in the family genealogy and will record her stories as she sorts through her belongings. And plans are being made for a multi-generational \’field trip\’ to Ireland next Fall to do some on-site family genealogical research.
As for “dancing with Harry” (her diseased husband), once she and her family worked things out, she didn\’t talk about it again – though the family continues to monitor the situation.
Additionally, they all agreed to review the arrangements every 3 months to make sure that everything is on track and that the arrangements continue to work for everyone.
And her desire to learn to tap-dance? She recruited enough other seniors for the senior center to bring in a dance instructor. They even started a tap-dancing “troupe” – doing some of the routines sitting on chairs! I\’m told the troupe has grown and, according to one member “It\’s a hoot!”