by Erin Guidry
If someone you love (a parent, sibling, family member, or friend) has decided to stay in their home after retirement, there are probably some tough conversations coming your way. When someone decides to age in place, it’s natural to feel concern about their wellbeing. Will they be lonely? Will they be safe?
These conversations can become emotional and tense very quickly, however, so you want to make sure you’re going into them prepared. There are three things you should consider before talking with your loved one about their choice to age in place.
Ask the Right Questions
Being worried in this situation is totally normal. But taking a blanket opposing stance by just saying “I don’t want you to do this” isn’t going to help a thing. You need to identify what it is you’re actually worried about and ask your loved one—calmly and with love—to address it.
Stop and think about what is really causing your fear or anxiety when you think about them staying at home after retirement. Is it health related? Finances? Are you worried they’ll become isolated? Pinpoint those fears and then work backward to ask the right questions. Address any concerns up front, so they don’t become a fight down the road.
If your loved one doesn't have a document like this started, you can use our free Independent Living Checklist as a jumping-off point. You can fill it out on your computer and then save or print it, or print it first and fill it out by hand - whichever you prefer!
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
It can be frustrating when someone you love insists they want to stay in their home, and you think it would be better if they didn’t. But stop for a moment and put yourself in their shoes. This is especially true for adult children of aging parents.
Imagine how infantilizing it would feel to have your children telling you what you must do. This person that you love is a fully capable adult and you need to meet them in this place as an adult yourself. Be a resource to help them optimize their planning, rather than undermining it. Work as a team, not adversaries.
Being concerned that your loved one will be isolated or lonely if they age in place is perfectly valid. Isolation is a huge problem in mature populations, regardless of where one chooses to live. Therefore, as you launch into this next season with your loved one, it’s important that you make it a priority to engage with them as often as possible.
Additionally, support and encourage them in building new friendships, nurturing existing bonds, and exploring their hobbies. Invite them into your family life (and children’s lives if you have kids). You may still have reservations about their choice, but the best way to allay those fears is to stay present for them as they age in place.
Accepting that your parent or loved one wants to stay in their home after retirement can be hard. But it is important for the health of your relationship with them that you respect their decision. The steps above will help you navigate the conversations and give you some peace of mind about the situation. If you are looking for more ways to support your loved one as they age in place, consider our collections of services, which are designed to help retirees make the most of their golden years.
Looking to support your family member in a healthy and reasoned discussion about aging in place. Share Part I of this series with them, which is written specifically from the retiree's point of view.