Q&A on Aging Parents and Resistance to Living with Their Children

Q: My husband and I have talked about caring for our parents when they are unable to care for themselves. We have offered that they stay with us in our home rather than move to an assisted living facility, but they seem unwilling. In fact, they don’t even want to talk about it. What can we do to address this topic and convince them that living with us is the best option?

A: Although aging parents and in-laws may realize their diminished mental and physical deficiencies, they often do not wish to admit it. They may be well aware of the challenges that confront them but still wish to avoid them. Don’t be surprised by your parents’ attempt to ignore or postpone any discussions regarding the perceived “worst-case scenarios.”

Parents can find it difficult to concede that they must now depend on their children and do not want to “become a burden” for them. Address that attitude by reassuring them your love for them outweighs any crisis that might arise. In fact, the Bible tells us to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).

Another point to consider is that your parents might not enjoy your lifestyle or location. If you remove them from familiar surroundings and good friends, your active schedule might conflict with their desire to live a more peaceful existence.

In spite of these hurdles you need to address these key issues with patience and understanding. Look for opportunities to talk about future plans. An example is when a family friend suffers a health problem. Speak honestly and openly about your plans for them, but don’t pressure your parents into a decision or a schedule. Provide instead the assurance that, if needed, they will be given a place to stay, especially if one of them dies before the other. Although your parents may be unwilling to carry on a discussion, at least share your thoughts in a positive manner. Even if they don’t respond, you can be assured your offer is heard and the option can be pursued in the future.

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