by Joy Loverde
If you are in the same boat as me (struggling with an elderly person who refuses move), take a look at my blogs 1 through 8 titled, “Moving a Reluctant Parent.” As you read along, pay particular attention to my attitude and communication strategies that I have employed along the way. My journey with my Aunt who refuses to move is now over two years and counting, and what I knew would eventually happen, is now happening.
Over the years I have mentally collected clear cut evidence that Aunt Bernice would be better off living somewhere else. Ever since the day she and I started talking about her move, things are taken a turn for the worse; she is having difficulties negotiating two flights of stairs; she is experiencing injuries due to a senior-unfriendly environment; she is finding out that her sons are not as readily accessible to help her when she needs it; her elderly neighbors are dying and moving away; she is spending money she is financially strapped and having difficulty keeping up with her mortgage and major interior and exterior repairs; she is experiencing chronic health issues; she is not sleeping at night because she is consumed with worries; and she is physically exhausted trying to do the actual work of maintaining the interior and exterior of the house.
In spite of the evidence, my Aunt’s response to everything that is happening around her and to her is, “That’s life.”
And so I take a deep breath, and make yet another attempt to see this situation form my Aunt’s point of view. What am I not seeing that Aunt Bernice is seeing? How is it that we can look at this situation from polar opposites and both be right?
Once again, the necessity for me to switch gears is essential if I want to have any kind of relationship with my Aunt. If I want to be right (whatever that is) and insist that she move now, I will lose her. If I want to learn something here and now and be a better person for it in the long run then I will take another deep breath, say a prayer, and begin to figure out how to take conversations with my Aunt in an entirely different (and more emotionally difficult) direction.
The act of moving is relatively simple process. Look around. Toss, give away, or keep. Pack boxes. Put stuff in a moving van or storage. Unpack. You’re done. Is this what my Aunt is resisting? Of course not. What’s at stake here is the necessity to my Aunt to face deep seated emotional issues head on as they relate to through independence to interdependence and the death of times gone by.
For the past several months I have purposefully not said one word moving. Instead, I have stayed in closer contact and have let her do all the talking. If she brought up the subject of moving, then I chimed in. If not, I listened for clues as to what is going on in her world. As hard as it has been for me to keep my mouth shut, this has proven to be an excellent strategy. The trust (and love) level between us remains high.
Truth is, my Aunt is not going to move anywhere until and unless she has dealt with the realities of old age and her realistic ability to remain in her own home, living alone. I’ve said this time and time again… my staying 100% respectful of her decision-making process and keeping the trust level high is eventually going to get me the results I am looking for – a smooth move transition.