In a survey of seniors aged 72 to 83, when asked about the reasons for not making a move at this point in life, the number one answer was “fear of change.”
This fear was expressed in various ways such as:
- Going to strange surroundings
- Going from familiar to less familiar
- Being in a new setting
- Leaving the current neighborhood
- Loss of neighbors/secure with current friends and neighbors
- Fear of driving in the new area/ afraid of getting lost
- Emotional separation from home
- Fear of the unknown
From our experience helping families with these concerns we have adopted some successful methods you can use with your senior family member. Remember, you are working with a very smart person who was once helping YOU with life’s problems and they are great problem solvers. Don’t talk down to them, show them the respect they deserve. This is how they would expect their grown up child to handle any situation in life, this is no different.
Important factors to keep in mind while working through these fears.
- Listen without an agenda.
- Focus on one subject at a time.
- Continually validate their decision to make a change.
The first thing you can do is identify their fears as:
- Emotional in nature (concerns about connecting socially) or
- Logistical in nature (concerns about getting items packed and sorting through what to leave behind, etc.)
Then, if it is Emotional, allow them to discuss the change with two-way communication, listen and acknowledge. Do not argue the point just listen and acknowledge their communication until they do not have the urge to talk about that subject any more. This does not mean that you are agreeing with any barriers but just that you are listening to their concerns.
If Logistical, take up the fear or concern one at a time and ask questions like; “How can we work that out? Or what is a way we can make that easier?” Keep this going until they resolve these concerns on their own. There is a lot of power in self-determinism. This may take more than one conversation, but continuing on each subject to a good end result each time will give the outcome that is needed and wanted by all.
Finally, and continually validate their decision to change and talk about the plus points in this new venture. You can also bring up other changes in their life that may have started out with concern and turned into a positive outcome. Remembering a pleasurable moment they have had making a successful change will provide confidence to the current situation. Continue doing these steps until the fear of change has lessened.
Author: Donna Rybacki Senior Placement Specialist
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