It can be difficult for senior citizens to accept reduced physicality and mobility, but for most individuals, a loss of mobility is inevitable later in life. If you have a loved one whose physical capabilities have been on the decline, you’re likely concerned about their safety—particularly if they live alone. But how can you broach this topic with them without offending or upsetting them? And more importantly, how can you convince them to make necessary changes that can protect them? Keep reading for a few tips.
Above all, these discussions should always begin from a place that’s based on love and concern—not frustration or control. You should not be trying to force your own desires on your aging parent, as this is likely to make them dig in their heels.
For example, something like, “I can’t keep coming over here every time you need help getting in the bath” comes off as accusatory and frustrated. You’re telling them that you’re bothered by the inconvenience they pose more than anything else. Instead, you should say something like, “I noticed you’re really struggling to get in the bath without help, and I’m worried you might fall.” This tells them that you’ve been paying attention to their needs, and you have nothing but concern for them.
Change is hard. Sudden and dramatic change is a lot harder, and people are more likely to resist it than small, gradual changes over time. Of course, if your loved one is in urgent need of safety and accessibility changes, then this might not work in your particular situation. But whenever possible, it’s a good idea to introduce mobility aids and home alterations a little at a time.
You might start by recommending a professional house cleaner come by once a week if your loved one struggles to keep up with household chores. You might add a railing to their front porch steps for them next, then suggest some safety bars in the bathroom a little later. Small, steady changes can make a big difference without making your loved one feel like their life has been upended.
Many family members of senior citizens think that a care facility is the only option when their loved ones can no longer get around their home safely—but that isn’t true. As already mentioned, there are many accessibility changes you can make to a home to aid aging in place. You can also look for in-home care, even if it’s only a couple of hours a week. The vast majority of seniors prefer to stay in their homes, so if you take a nursing home off the table completely, your loved one will be more likely to hear out your concerns and be willing to make adjustments, such as putting in ramps or a walk-in bathtub with a shower.