We often say here at the firm that change is one of the few certainties in life. Depending on our stage of life, change can be exciting, fun, relieving, and anxiety-provoking. It is safe to say that change can be hard to endure. Older adults who have established their lives and homes for many years can be resistant to change, especially as presented by their adult children or other loved ones.
Older adults who have spent their lives building careers and family structures are sometimes faced with the children they have raised making attempts to reverse their roles and “boss them around.” We know from working closely with caregivers, that it is rarely an adult child’s desire to anger or control an elderly parent. Rather, they are concerned about overall safety and looking for ways their parents can safely age in place.
Common changes that may be suggested to older adults who are still residing in their private homes are to cease driving their personal vehicles, cease using the staircases in the home, and install modifications such as a raised toilet seat and grab bars. Changes to a house and thus changes to a daily routine, however small, can seem very big to people who have been independent for a very long time.
When loved ones are resistant to change, take the time to slow down and listen. What is motivating their anger and frustration over suggestions of change? Make a conscious effort to listen more and talk less. You might learn something you didn’t already know about your loved one’s concerns and struggles. Try to convey that change now can equal proactive steps to prevent crisis and more difficult change later. It is very important to also realize that conversations about change must be ongoing. A decision to install a stair-lift or to sell a family car is a difficult one to accept and therefore a loved one will need to be reminded why their trusted advisors are in support of changes in their lives.
While older adults can be resistant to change in general, those living with dementia struggle with change on a more complicated level. Due to the changes in their cognitive abilities, the world around them becomes less and less familiar as the disease progresses. Again, in an effort to keep people safe, conversations concerning change may need to be constant. To reference a short video on the topic of change in the lives of those with dementia, click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLMZv-UUQe8&feature=youtu.be.
At Weatherby & Associates, PC, we take the time to meet with families and help them utilize resources to ease transitions. Because no matter how big or small change can be, it can be difficult to manage. Having a team of trusted individuals can be very helpful. To learn more about our life care planning model which helps to build a team for our clients and families, contact us at 860-769-6938.