My kids don’t understand! It’s my safety zone. I’ve lived here for 40 years. This home is my memories, not just a building and foundation. It’s hard to think of moving to a community and having to make new friends. What if my money runs out? Will they kick me out? How do I start going through everything — there’s so much. I don’t have anyone to help me and I don’t want to burden my family. What if I move and I hate it?
Help Parents Cope With A Fear Of Moving Out
Sound familiar? Over the course of my career in working with seniors and their families the above questions and comments have been a constant when dealing with a move of a senior from their long time home. Some have described the stress of moving as somewhere between a divorce and a colonoscopy — ouch! As we age, change becomes more and more difficult. As children of seniors, we want the best for our parents. We want them in a safe and thriving environment so that peace of mind can be achieved for both children and their parents.
Communication is so important in a successful move and all too often our best intentions can over shadow the importance of understanding and truly listening to our parents. In visiting with my senior clients, they will tell me how frustrated they are with themselves and their children. They truly love their kids but are upset at the lack of understanding by their children when it comes to their emotional well-being. The older adult is facing a daunting move. The current senior generation that I refer to, ages 75-90, has always been fiercely independent.
The thought of relying on others to make their move is distasteful at best. Their children have busy lives and their own children to worry about. So how to both parent and child truly understand one another when beginning the process of moving?
First and most importantly, listen, listen, and listen! That goes both ways. For the child of the older adult, ask questions as to what emotions they are experiencing when thinking about their move. Find out what are their greatest fears and talk about them.
Seek To Understand Parent’s Fear About Leaving Their Home
Understand the memories and intangibles such as their feelings of deep loss and sadness as they think of giving up their home. For each senior, moving elicits a different set of issues both mentally and physically. As their child, initially try to offer support by truly listening and then suggest solutions after truly understanding their fears and concerns.
If you are the senior considering a move to a senior community or apartment, know that your children love you and want what is best for you. You cannot expect them to truly understand what you are experiencing as it is new to you and to them also. They cannot feel the pain of a loss of spouse or the fears of moving to a completely new environment after so many years in their familiar surroundings. Your kids will someday have to face the same issues, so know that they hold their own set of emotions, fears and concerns.
In the end by intensely listening to each other each party will be more likely to work together for a positive outcome. Both parent and child will better understand the set of issues both are facing throughout this emotional period. Together, it will be easier to obtain important information necessary for this significant moment in time. By listening to each other, a new and even stronger bond between parent and child can occur! Know that a family’s love for one another will overcome the many obstacles faced when starting the process of re-locating to new surroundings. Remember that as you tread through new territory and know that both parent and child have one common goal which is happiness and security for the older adult, and peace of mind for their children!