You love your elderly mother dearly, but she lives far away, and with your own busy lifestyle you only see her a few times a year. Mom still lives alone in the house you grew up in, but now declining health is threatening her independence. You’ve been trying to help mom from a distance, but her condition is growing worse. Should you ask her to move closer to you? Once you approach her with the idea, don’t be surprised if her initial response is “no”. But don’t give up if you think it’s in her best interests. Instead, try these steps.

Express Your Feelings in Person

Most elderly people remain proud and independent even after their health starts declining. Seniors also don’t like to appear weak to their children, so gently sit down face-to-face with your mom, share your concerns, and how much she matters to you. Because mom’s still living so far away, waiting for a major health crisis to occur is not a good option. Instead, be proactive about discussing moving her closer, and how that would benefit her health, wellbeing and ability to age in place. During the conversation, never use threats or intimidation.

Why’s Mom So Hesitant to Move?

During your conversation, your mother will probably express why she’s hesitant to move closer. Let her speak freely, while reading her body language and tone, to gage how insistent she really is about her decision. Here are some of the more common objections you might hear:

  • Doesn’t want to be a burden to you and your family
  • Enjoys her activities and friends
  • Concerned about the financial impact of moving
  • Likes living alone
  • Comfortable with local shopping, banking, and transportation opportunities
  • Worried about leaving behind trusted doctors, hospitals, and healthcare providers

Once you’ve heard mom’s objections, it’s time to develop a game plan to address those concerns, as you gradually persuade her to move closer.

Address Her Concerns

Based on what you’ve learned, try to alleviate mom’s concerns by finding acceptable solutions for each one. It will take some time and research on your part, but if it’s successful the return will be well worth it. Use these strategies to gently convince her to say “yes”:

Ask for Her Assistance

Most seniors don’t want to burden their grown children. Tell mom that you could use some help taking care of the kids, and how much it would mean for you all to see her more. For example, if mom still drives, tell her how great it would be if she could transport the kids to and from their activities and school.

Find Senior Activities

Search in your area for senior-focused activities that mom would enjoy engaging in, and then share what you’ve found. Tell her how easy it would be to make new friends, and that you will teach her how to use social media to stay in touch with old friends back home.

Alleviate Her Financial Worries

Assure mom that you’ll help her set up accounts for local service providers and banking, and that you’ll also assist with bills, if that’s an issue. Offer your assistance for tying up “loose ends” related to cancelling existing service providers, selling her h