Monday, October 10, 2011

Your Aging Parent Refuses to Spend Money on Eldercare

A penny saved is a penny earned. All her life your aging parent has lived by Ben Franklin's words. But now, she needs assisted living or in-home care. The cost scares her to death.

Eighty-three-year-old Lois felt that way. Over the years she'd collected diagnoses like barnacles: diabetes, congestive heart failure, and more. She needed medication management, plus help with showers, dressing and other daily activities. As we talked, she fixated on the expense.

"It's SO expensive. It's SO expensive," she repeated.

"You can afford it," her son said, citing numerous investments. Lois wasn't convinced. So what to do?

Perhaps your parent's story is similar. Before you point out the "facts," try drawing her out with an open ended question. Something like: "I know you're really concerned about spending so much money. What troubles you most about that?"

You might be surprised at what you hear. Having grown up in the Depression, she may feel a sense of failure at spending money on herself, even though needed, instead of providing a larger nest egg for the kids. I've heard other elders say, "I've always given a substantial amount of money to the church. If I go to assisted living, I won't have as much to give." Still others are paranoid they'll run out of money. They've never spent more than their monthly income.

Whatever they say, listen before speaking your peace. And try to affirm their concerns. Then you can calmly point out how what the monthly fees will cover and how life will be better should they get care. Another tactic: Let them know that you'd like to move to assisted living or hire home care so YOU don't worry. The idea of sacrificing for you and your family members may make sense.

I often use this phrase:

"Remember during your lifetime you always saved for a rainy day?" "Well, right now it's beginning to drizzle." Or "It's pouring!"

Have you used other words to help convince your parent to get care? Tell me about it.

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