How can I get my mother to talk to me about moving?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

Every time I raise the issue of moving, my widowed mother either snaps at me or pretends she didn't hear me. How can I help her face this important decision when she won't even let me bring up the subject?

Expert Answers

Donna Quinn Robbins is the author of Moving Mom and Dad and On the Road of Life, Drive Yourself. She helps individuals, families, retirement communities, and corporations make successful transitions through her company, Ultimate Moves. Robbins is an active public speaker on the topic of senior transition services and has appeared on NBC's Today Show.

If your mother isn't very old and is in decent shape for her age, then my suggestion is for you to start researching living options for her future on your own. This will bring you peace of mind but also give her space to make her own decisions while she's still capable. Sometimes we children let our fear get the best of us, and we put too much emphasis on what our parents "should" be doing. You can rest more easily by creating a plan now and putting it aside until you feel the time has come for serious consideration of a move.

If your mother is failing physically, however, you need to take action. There's the subtle approach: You can contact senior communities and have them send her their brochures or informational packets in the mail. She may throw them away, or she may actually open them -- you might be surprised. Then there's the backhanded approach: Enlist a friend to talk to her. Together they may get further along in the discussion than you would with your mother, because they don't have any "baggage." You might also contact a transitioning expert, who can sometimes work wonders. Finally, you can send your mother letters in the mail telling her how worried you are, and explaining that you don't want to see her get hurt and have to move somewhere she may not want to live.

Your last approach would be the tough-love angle. Outline what the consequences will be if something happens to her. Ask her if she wants control over her life, and if the answer is yes, then tell her that unless she faces her situation and makes her own choices now, she may not have a choice later. And tell her you may not have the capacity to come to her rescue all the time if she isn't willing to help you help her. This isn't an easy situation, but it's best to persevere if you really feel there's a danger to your mother.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...
Our children asked my husband and I if we had thought about what we would do if the other was incapacitated or died before the other. I am partially disabled and do not drive. While I have an idea about what I would do, my husband has not verbalized anything, but is thinking about it. My Mom died abput 10 years ago. When she returned to the city of her birth, she picked a comprehensive facility--independent living, assisted living and nursing home. When she went to the independent living area, the administrator placed her on the waiting list for the other areas. It was my responsibiity to tell her it was time to move to the assisted living area. Everything went smoothly for her. My mother grew up in the South, and I lived in the North---as I was working in a nursing facility, I did not think it would be wise to move her where I was as she --and my Dad--always felt uncomfortable in the North. It was the wisest decision I have ever made.