Giving the 3 Gifts of No

When people with dementia still demand to hold on to independence and make their own decisions, but they’ve lost the competency to do so, their loved ones – even those with power of attorney – who have to say ‘no’ are put in tough spots.

“Three of the biggest ‘no’ moments happen when a parent can no longer drive, manage their finances, and live at home anymore,” says Danielle Buck, Director of Community Relations at YourLife™ of Stuart, a Memory Care community in Stuart, Florida. “Even if the person is capable of admitting that what you’re saying is in their best interest, it doesn’t mean they’ll accept your decision or see it for the gift that it is. Respecting their feelings and involving them as much as possible in the transitions will help bring them to the safe side much faster than logic or threats.”

In this post, we’ll discuss how to give your loved one the 3 Gifts of No.

Note: When broaching any of these topics, be sure that your reasons for saying ‘no’ are valid and acknowledge your loved one’s feelings and perspectives. Recognize the difficult emotions that might emerge – denial, helplessness, defeat, bitterness – and be prepared to help them cope with these challenges.


The Gift of No #1: You Can No Longer Drive

This might be the toughest gift to give since you’ll have to say ‘no’ at a time when they are still capable of handling other tasks independently, and they may view driving as the biggest symbol of independence.

In a non-accusatory manner, explain the reasons it’s time for them to stop driving. Their most recent fender bender, they got lost on the way home from the store, or family and friends feel unsafe with them behind the wheel. If they disagree, have them evaluated by an impartial doctor, be given a professional driving assessment, and check your state’s laws regarding driving with dementia.

Emphasize that they don’t have to worry about missing appointments or stop attending religious services, meeting friends for lunch, or even doing their own shopping. Not when there’s an app for that! If your loved one is just now hanging up the keys, they may be able to use technology.

• Teach them how to use a transportation service like Uber and takeout delivery apps like DoorDash.

• Help them set up automatic deliveries for prescriptions, groceries, and frequently restocked toiletries, pet food, detergents, paper products, and other household items. Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program has thousands of items available to mix and match for discounted rates.

• If apps are out, remind them they can still call a cab and that you or another family member will also take them where they need to go or bring them what they need.

If your loved one failed the doctor’s exam or driving assessment and still refuses to stop driving – or doesn’t remember they agreed not to stop – be prepared to take the keys home with you or to disable or sell their vehicle.

The Gift of No #2: You Can No Longer Manage Your Finances

This one’s tricky because handing over their checkbook and personal information requires a lot of trust on your loved one’s part. They might also be embarrassed that they forget to pay their bills on time, have been making large, uncharacteristic purchases, or have fallen victim to a scam that preys on seniors – but that’s why they need you.

Assure them that the money is still theirs and, if appropriate, they will still have their ATM and/or a credit card for everyday purchases. (If overspending is a problem, lowering the limits on cash withdrawals and credit cards is a good way to recognize their independence with minimal financial risk.)

If your loved one hesitates, suggest they might be more comfortable hiring a professional to manage their financial affairs. Ask friends for recommendations and research Daily Money Managers in your area. If your loved one chooses this route, try not to take it personally; instead, be grateful that you don’t have to deal with the added responsibility now or possible accusations of mishandling your loved one’s finances by family members or your loved one.


The Gift of No #3: I Can No Longer Care for You at Home

This is really a twofer gift – one for you, one for your loved one. You’ve worked tirelessly to make it so your loved one can stay at home safely. However, the caregiving, upkeep, and constant worrying have taken their tolls, and you can no longer provide the level of care they require.

Depending on how advanced their dementia is, your loved one may not resist. But if they understand what is happening, it’s important not to make them feel like they’ve been a burden. You might say that as they’ve aged, so have you and you’re just not up to the physicality of ensuring they are safe and healthy, or that you’d like to see them enjoy activities and outings with their peers. And at a specialized, dementia-supportive community, they’ll have access to nursing care 24/7, friends to socialize with, fun things to do, and delicious, nutritious meals.

If your loved one is able, involve them in the process as much as possible. Show them brochures or websites of the communities you think they’ll like best. Point out features that interest them, such as an art studio or gardens, and then take them for in-person visits. A short-term respite stay can help them fully experience the community before moving in.

Reassure them that you’ll help make their move as easy as possible and that you’ll visit often – then do so.

RELATED: When and How to Say "No" to Caregiving


YourLife™ of Stuart helps families manage the challenges of transitioning to memory care living. Call us today. 772-212-2448


Designed for You. Defined by You.
YourLife™ of Stuart was created with one purpose – to provide the most exceptional Memory Care and uplifting lifestyle for our residents. As Memory Care specialists, we focus all our energy, attention and resources on creating a community that caters to each resident’s personal needs, respects their choices and honors individuality while providing unmatched peace of mind and support for families.

Because Memory Care is our sole focus, we have the unique ability to design and personally tailor plans around our residents. We see each resident as an individual, understanding that everyone has their own story, specific needs and retained abilities. With that information, we develop personally inspired care plans that value and support each person’s independence.

Our team of attentive, caring YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists is on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist with everyday activities, gentle reminders and redirection.

Through our signature programming, YourStory, we create an individual experience centered around each resident. From cultural, educational and health and wellness programming, scheduled outings and other special events to personal care, assistance and multiple therapies, we create days with meaning. At YourLife™ of Stuart, our residents and families know that this is a community designed for you, with a lifestyle defined by you. Contact us to learn more! Call 772-212-2448.