Oftentimes, family members become frustrated if they face resistance from their elderly relatives when they suggest having help or considering another place to move. In many cases, this resistance comes from fears that seniors have while they face the challenges of staying active and independent as they age. Understanding and acknowledging these fears can help to facilitate a reasonable and productive conversation between an adult child and an aging parent. Some of the top fears of the elderly are discussed here.
1. Losing Independence
According to a recent survey conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care Network, seniors worry about the future, beginning with the loss of their independence. Managing life on one’s own terms is at the very core of our human nature. When physical or cognitive health begins to fail and the need for help becomes more apparent, the threat to living independently causes many seniors to put up a wall as a way to stay in control. And while this resistance may seem to contribute to the very problems we are trying to solve, the senior sees this behavior as a key to maintaining that control.
2. Declining Health
In some cases, declining health dictates the need for assistance with personal care or renders the home no longer realistic as a safe place to live. Oftentimes, a senior knows she needs help, but fears asking for assistance because it would result in losing the home or being forced to move into a nursing home or assisted living facility.
3. Running Out of Money
According to the Perspectives of Retirement survey conducted by PNC Financial Services Group, more than half of retired Americans (53%) are concerned about running out of money. Unfortunately, many seniors are reticent to talk about their financial affairs – especially with their own family members.
4. Not Being Able To Drive
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, seniors age 80 and older have the highest rate of fatal crashes per mile driven. When the question of declining driving abilities becomes personal, the issues involved with elderly driving are very emotional. Elderly drivers might get defensive — even angry — when the subject of their driving abilities is raised.
Tips for Managing the Conversation:
It’s important, if at all possible, to have the discussion before the need occurs. Start the conversation with your loved one in a casual way, opening them up to sharing their needs and their desires regarding their future. Emphasize your desire to help your loved one stay independent, ask questions and listen. Make sure your time and timing is right. In other words, set aside enough time to have a fruitful conversation and be sensitive to when the time is right for your elderly relative or friend to share.
It is important to include the elderly person in the decision-making process, rather than dictate a decision to them. If the choice is to take the car away, be prepared to discuss alternatives for maintaining their mobility. In some cases, initiating a conversation may actually be a welcome relief.
While it can be difficult to talk to loved ones about these issues, putting off the conversation could mean risking an emergency situation such as an accident or illness that takes the decision out of your hands entirely. Plan ahead!