Moving a Reluctant Parent – Part 1


by Joy Loverde

Many of you know that I recently wrote a 23-part series about moving my Mom and her husband, Bill long distance – from Florida to Chicago. It was quite an ordeal in spite of the fact that they were motivated to move (at least Mom was).

Now I am faced with a move of a different nature – helping my elderly Aunt Bernice move out of the home she has lived in for over 50 decades. The difference between this situation and Mom’s move is the fact that Aunt Bernice does not want to move. She has made it very clear that by doing nothing she is expecting someone else to clean up the financial and emotional messes she leaves behind.

Let the games begin!

My wonderful Aunt Bernice is 79 years old and has experienced her share of personal challenges including the death of a beloved daughter who died unexpectedly from a drug overdose. My cousin, Michelle, left behind a two-year old (her husband would die of an overdose several months later). Little Rachel became the love of Aunt Bernice’s life, and to this day they are inseparable.

The house Aunt Bernice refuses to leave behind holds many memories fond and not-so-fond. Today, I watch as she makes her best attempts to negotiate the rooms where life unfolded. Rooms where she and my uncle raised their family, where they gathered our families together for holiday dinners and festivities, and rooms where we sat with Aunt Bernice and mourned the lives of newly departed loved ones like Michelle and Uncle Frank.

The house is who Aunt Bernice is. Every nook and cranny is her, from the dark wood paneling to the doilies in the hall curio. Fifty years of a life wrapped up in 1400 square feet. And over and over again, Aunt Bernice has proclaimed that she is going nowhere. That’s that.  I don’t have a leg to stand on right now. I completely understand what she is telling me. No means no.  And yet, I know from years of personal caregiving experience that I can (and will) find a way to open up the dialogue with Aunt Bernice to turn this situation around.

So dear reader, I’ll be blogging along the way. I have no idea how this move will turn out – just like I didn’t know what was around every corner with Mom and Bill. I do know one thing for sure; it’s going to be a wild ride. Eldercare and moving a reluctant elderly loved one always is!


3 Responses

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by steve Joyce, Laurel Kennedy. Laurel Kennedy said: Moving a Reluctant Parent – Part 1 - by Joy Loverde Many of you know that I recently wrote a 23-part series about ... [...]
  2. I admire the confidence this author has in herself to make this move possible, and I respect her recognition that it may take awhile. It took me many years to move my mother from Iowa to Oregon (she was as stubborn as Aunt Bernice), but we are both glad now that we live close to one another. She still misses her old nest, but she's quite comfortably settled in to her new one.
  3. As a father of 4 teenagers, the caregiver for a 91 year old father and 84 year old Alzheimer's afflicted mother, as well as a care manager I am continually struck by the similarities between adolescent and elder behavior. If "let mistakes happen while keeping them safe" is a fair summary of any plan in progress, it makes sense to use established professional negotiating principles to first establish common ground, then isolate one-by-one those areas of disagreement. Then tease each one apart to see where the real sticking points are, always reminding one another of the best and worst alternatives to a negotiated resolution. You may even remind Bernice of how she resolved struggles in her own family and the tragedy that often comes from stubborn miscommunication. Check out The Consensus Building Institute in Cambridge, MA for dispute resolution guidance. Good luck.
  4. HI Joy, I see this situation almost daily and am so happy to be part of a solution for seniors with educating them on the benefits of a reverse mortgage. Aging in place is crucial to some seniors, and by freeing up some cash from their home, it allows them to be financially stable, make necessary repairs or adjustments to their home and mostly, to live in peace. No longer are reverse mortgages considered only for the destitute- they are a wonderful tool to help our aging parents and relatives live with financial freedom !

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