Senior Slant #4 – Control Freaks

image 36Boomers tell me “My parents need to move into a retirement community. You need to help me convince them.”

Obviously, my role is NOT to steer seniors in a direction they do not want to go, even if their adult son or daughter thinks this is the step their parents need to take. But I do understand the request. When you’re suddenly making decisions for parents who used to call all the shots, you’re bound to be concerned that you’ll make the wrong choice, guide your parents the wrong way, or do something that makes them unhappy. These fears make it particularly difficult for you, the adult children, to move things forward. Your impulse may be to shut the parents out of the process, pick one option without considering others, and fast-forward in that direction.

There’s a better way to handle this “role reversal” situation. I might counsel you something like this: “Thank you so much for enlisting me on your parents’ team! How about we all get together and let me offer you and your parents a list of options—along with pros and cons for each—so you can help them find the best option for their future, while also empowering them to make a choice that feels comfortable and doesn’t require convincing them? I would be happy to share my resources, help you open the lines of communication to discuss their desires, and help your family determine what they need and want to be happy.”

Consider things from your parents’ point of view. When an individual (or couple) uproots their entire life, they are left with an overwhelming amount of “unknown” to handle. Your parents may be willing to let you, the adult child, step in and take over because they can’t handle it all on their own. This doesn’t mean they want to give up being treated like an adult. Instead, it means they need—and recognize that they need—a little help.

In fact, there may be other siblings and legal guardians or financial advisors involved in your parents’ decision. When someone wants me to convince a senior to go their way it tells me that person is probably not the sole decision-maker. So the best you can do is present all the available options to your parents, something I can certainly help you do. But then the decision is up to them.

I know that’s hard, and I’ve been telling my own parents for years now that they should move to a community where there will be a much greater social life for both of them. But they refuse to consider it, so I watch them live their lives in boredom, isolation and without any reason to get out of bed in the morning. I have to remind myself that they are adults and responsible for their own lives, my role is just to show them the options.

I know you have great care and concern for your parents’ well-being but maybe your way isn’t the only way. If you need help figuring out all the available options, I’d be happy to help.