By Joy Loverde
If you’re up to speed on my “Moving a Reluctant Parent” (blogs One through Ten), then you’re familiar with the ongoing saga of moving my Aunt out of her house. You also know that she has let it be known every which way that she is not moving out of her house no matter what – until now.
This past weekend I am delighted to tell you there was a major breakthrough!!!
My family caregiver strategy always has been and will forever be to stay close, ask questions rather than make demands, and listen up when aging parents and elderly loved ones start talking. There is no other way to keep the lines of communication open and the trust level high. As long as this is the relationship environment there will always be an opportunity to seize the moment and move closer to your desired goal of helping them move.
The latest phone conversation between me and my Aunt allowed me an opening to take action. Aunt Bernice told me she’s getting more afraid every day when it comes to living alone in the house. Instead of making an assumption regarding what she meant by that statement, I asked, ““What’s your biggest fear?” She then said, “I’m worried that no one will be able to make heads or tails out of my important and legal papers.” And that’s when I offered to help put her paperwork in order. This was a critical turning point for her and her long-time stance on maintaining privacy and independence. The trust level between us went up several notches!
When I arrived at her house, we immediately got to work looking over her papers and putting them in order. A simple task, and yet, this process of working together opened her eyes as to how much help she really needed. In the meantime I was careful not to look at her bank statement amounts and I did not ask her anything about income and spending. Both of these gestures would have been out of bounds.
The task of getting her paperwork organized took no more than three hours. When we finished I could see that she was physically and mentally relieved. And then I did another smart thing. I did not hang around the house. I left.
That’s another one of my famous strategies. Make them miss you. In the short period of time while we were together, I communicated to her (non-verbally) that I can help her do anything; and that I was to be trusted.
When I got home, my husband and I discussed another moving-related strategy. Why doesn’t my cousin (her son) buy a condo; then my Aunt can rent from him at a price she can afford? It’s a win-win. I have a call into my cousin right now to see what he thinks about making an investment in a condo.
Stay tuned. More to come.