by Joy Loverde
“I am never, EVER moving out of this house, and that’s that!” Over the past several decades, my widowed Aunt has been determined to stay put and live out the rest of her life in her own home. Moving her would be like moving mountains. And if anyone was foolish enough to bring up the subject of moving, she would strongly suggest changing the subject immediately… or else.
Over the years, there were moments when I was successful opening the dialogue and talking about this sensitive subject with my Aunt. I’d “poke” at the idea by asking her probing questions. Sometimes I’d ask, “What are your plans if the day comes that you are unable to keep up with yard work?” (She cannot afford to hire a gardener.) “What will you do if you can no longer go up and down the stairs?”
No matter what I asked, her response was always the same. She flat out said that her being forced to move out of her home is going to be somebody else’s problem. Her plan was to wait until she had to move out, and then everyone else would make all decisions for her (and consequently do all the work).
I was taken back knowing something wasn’t quite right with this attitude. It is a rare person who is willing to give up control and power when it comes to making important decisions, and something about my Aunt’s statement did not ring true with me. I felt she was not being honest with herself and running scared, and it turns out later on I was correct.
By the way, early in the process of discussing the move with my Aunt you may be wondering if I made any progress? The answer is – yes and no. While I was not successful in getting any kind of agreement from her, I was successful being heard. Dear Reader… never underestimate the power of voicing your concerns even if what you say falls on deaf ears and does not immediately lead to a plan of action. When you say talk about the future with elderly loved ones, and then you drop the subject (for awhile) this technique offers our elders much needed space and time in order for them to spend time on their own contemplating their dilemma.
One more thing. I am not advocating that everyone has to eventually move out of their house. Bringing help in, including family members and friends is certainly an option for many; but not in this case. There were plenty of clues along the way that lead me to realize this was an inevitable move.