Just because over the past few years Aunt Bernice and I have engaged in conversations about moving out of the house, and just because she actually allowed me to help her pack a few boxes, and just because she knows that I know there is a looming move in store for her does not mean we are not getting anywhere.
SILENCE IS A POWERFUL COMMUNICATION TOOL and one that many family caregivers fail to use on a regular basis. Why is this so? Because family caregivers are often stressed out, under a lot of pressure to perform numerous eldercare tasks simultaneously, and have the underlying desire to get things done as soon as possible. The family caregiver mantra is, “Let’s get this over with.” I can relate.
Trouble is, when we are bound and determined to do things our way, and in our own timing, and we ignore our elder’s emotional needs, our “plow through this” approach is guaranteed to backfire. Importantly, all of the trust that has been built up over the years between you and your elder will disappear in an instant. When the trust is gone you have real problems on your hands.
The trust level between me and my Aunt is high right now. Several months ago, Aunt Bernice confided in me that she can’t sleep at night because she is worried about how to pay her bills. This past harsh Chicago winter, Aunt Bernice was bed-ridden after having snow-plowed her long driveway (she doesn’t have the money to pay someone else to do it and her 80-year old, overweight and out of shape body gave up on her). A week ago she said her roof is falling apart. And each time we talked, my response was, “Uh huh.” SILENCE IS A POWERFUL COMMUNICATION TOOL. My book, The Complete Eldercare Planner has numerous communication tips for emotionally-challenging conversations. You might want to check out the “Communicaring” chapter for helpful tips.
Aunt Bernice knows deep in her heart that the move is inevitable. Confiding in me about all of the terrible things that are going wrong in her life right now as it pertains to her house is her way of getting closer to calling me one day and saying, “I’m ready to get out of this place.” In the meantime, I want to yell into the phone, “That house is sucking you dry financially and emotionally!” It takes every once of energy for me not to say a word. I know that she should have moved years ago; then again, who am I to say?