One of the many conflicts that can arise when caregiving for an older adult is how self-aware they are. How much do they feel they are capable of versus how much they are capable of?
My friend had grandparents who were in their 80s and doing alright for themselves, but definitely not heeding what their bodies were telling them. The grandfather insisted on getting up on the roof and cleaning the gutters – until his children convinced him not to (mostly by doing it themselves). This was part of what led to a larger discussion about whether or not owning a house was still a good idea for them. They had much more space than they needed, but the couple still enjoyed owning a home. This argument continued in the family for months, before the grandfather slipped on the front step while it was covered in ice and broke his hip.
At that point, the grandparents agreed that perhaps it was time to move into an assisted living facility. And they love it. The complex is large and has several different levels of care. They’re in the lowest level of assistance and have complete independence. This complex even has a few guest rooms where family members can stay for free when they visit.
Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a tragedy to open the eyes of a senior, to help them realize that while they may feel and act young at heart (and they should!) they do need to understand their limits. A time of crises is not when you want to be making life-changing decisions. If possible, gently, and without any specific timelines, speak to your senior about what their plans are when they are not as capable as they currently are. If you approach the topic with love, they may just listen.