What Parents Want Adult Children to Know About Moving to Senior Living
Your parents tended to your boo-boos, instilled morals and redirected you when you went astray. No matter how old you get, they will always be your parents. However, as your parents age, there may be a time when you want or need to be more involved in their lives. Maneuvering this stage in a relationship comes with its own set of obstacles. One thing is almost always certain – your parents don’t want you parenting them.
A study conducted by Penn State and published online in the Journals of Gerontology Psychology Sciences in January 2015 indicates aging adults feel a struggle to maintain the autonomy they’ve come to enjoy. What parents recognized as an attempt to maintain their autonomy was perceived by adult children as being stubborn.
Findings from a research study published in Global Public Health in March 2022 reinforced the idea of misconstrued perception: “Contact and interaction with adult offspring, as well as both giving and receiving support and caregiving, can have either positive or negative effects on parents’ well-being, depending upon whether these experiences are perceived by the older adult as enriching, harmonious and desired.”
So, what do aging parents want?
To maintain independence
As people age, things they can’t control increase like health or mobility issues. Holding on to their independence becomes even more important. Adult children don’t want to be told what to do any more than their parents.
Making an independent decision was important to Suzanne Basler’s moving from North Carolina to Louisville because she was lonely. “A lot of my friends were either moving closer to their children or passing away,” said Suzanne. “I told my son and daughter-in-law who live in Louisville that I was lonely.”
She researched communities and narrowed her search to three, including Masonic. “On the first visit, I brought my daughter-in-law, and on the second visit I came alone to see how the community would work for me. I wanted to make my own decision. I don’t think I asked for their opinion,” laughed Suzanne. “That’s how my relationship is with my kids. They respect my boundaries and I respect theirs.”
To be respected
“What I want from my kids is the same thing I would really want from any relationship; love, respect and companionship,” said Suzanne.
She knows that generational differences play a big role in relationships. Perceived perception can affect lines of communication and ultimately increase tension and conflict. “People my age generationally do not want to ask for help,” said Suzanne, a Village Active Lifestyle Community resident. “I also believe my children are typical of their generation.”
I made it clear when I decided to move that they have their own lives and I have no plans to interfere. “The influence I had on my children probably ended at adolescence. I wanted them to do what they wanted and now I expect the same in return.”
To be heard
We’ve all depended on someone at some point in our lives. As people age, the need for assistance is often greater and aging is just another stage in life. Your parents turning 70 is not an automatic warning sign to start monitoring their diet, weight, activity level, etc.
Opening the lines of communication is important. Ask open-ended questions, then let your parents talk. Ask what’s important to them, what they need and what they want. When people feel heard, they are more likely to share what’s going on in their life.
There is a good chance if you’ve noticed dad having trouble with the yardwork, or mom spending extra time organizing her medications, they are probably also aware of the changes. Ask how you can help and expect most requests may be dismissed. Just knowing you’re available if they do need help may be enough for the time being.
To have a partner
When Georgina Shank moved from her four-bedroom, three-bath house in Glasgow, Kentucky. She needed too much help to keep it and her yard pristine.
“It’s different if your kids have to make you move. I’m now 93 years old and I knew I needed to move. My house was just too big. I had the prettiest perennial garden and I hated to leave it but I couldn’t find anyone to weed it, and I could no longer do it. I said to myself, ‘Georgina, you have to find a different place to live.’ Her four kids knew of her plans to move, and knew she was in charge.
Asking for help is not Georgina’s strong suit. Georgina was very clear that she doesn’t want anyone, including her kids, feeling like they have to help her. “I don’t ask them to help me, but when they do it’s because they want to and I like that.”
One of her daughters visits every Saturday and spends the day talking and prepping meals for the next week. “Living alone, I miss conversation the most, so I really look forward to my Saturday visits.” She also receives regular visits from her granddaughters. “They have memories of coming to stay at my house when they were little, and now they want to do the same for me and I love it.”
Learn more about Masonic’s residential living options by attending one of our informational events independently or with your adult children. Click here to view our list of upcoming events.