Son: Mom, turn a light on, it’s getting dark outside.
Mom: It’s ok, I’ll just sit here in the dark.
Son: Mom, it’s cold and raining outside. I will call a taxi for you.
Mom: It’s senior’s day at Shoppers, I will take the bus.
Son: Now that dad has passed away, this big old house must be getting a lot to handle. Do you think we could start talking about some options and things to make it easier?
Mom: No, I have lived here for 50 years and will remain for another 50! I don’t need any help!
Does any of this sound familiar?
One challenge that I hear from families and trust advisors alike, is the reluctance of their parent /older client to:
- accept assistance and/or
- spend any money on themselves.
This can be problematic and raises concerns and questions on many levels.
Is the older individual capable of making sound decisions for themselves? If they are capable, while we may not like their decisions, it is their decision to make. However how can we encourage our clients to shift their point of view? A previous blog that I wrote was titled: ‘What’s Your Point of View? Is a cane an enabler or disabler’. We all know many seniors who prefer not to use the assistive devices that are prescribed/recommended for their safety and well-being. In particular, the use of a cane and the use of a walker seem to be viewed by many as an unnecessary attachment and an ‘aging’ device. I help them to recognize that these mobility aids are actually an ‘enabler’ rather than a ‘disabler’. For someone who is unable to walk, a wheelchair provides the freedom for them to leave their home and reintegrate into the community.
A cane can make the difference between someone staying upright on their feet or losing their balance and falling. Sometimes our clients have to find that out for themselves- such as my client Mary who did not want to have grab bars installed in her bathroom and did not feel she needed any supervision bathing- until she fell while showering and broke her arm. A difficult and painful lesson to be sure- but a decision she had to make herself.
The issue about spending money is more complicated. The older generation is a generation of savers- post war adults who may have ‘done without’ and are used to saving money wherever possible. This is further complicated with their desire to leave an inheritance to their children. Whatever amount they have saved, many will say that they have worked hard so that their children don’t have to work as hard or do without- as they did.
Most times the clients that I see, are financially comfortable and are not in need of their parent’s money. With the family’s encouragement, I try to help the older adult recognize that this is the rainy day that they had been saving for and their money is for them to use for their needs and quality of life. It is not easy and the message often has to be repeated many times.