Dear Rachel,

I am incredibly close to my father, and he has always been a tremendous pillar of strength for me. However, I can't really say he has aged gracefully; and while he has always loved to protect and give to me, he doesn't really want any help in return. My father really can no longer live on his own, and we would love for him to move in with our family. He doesn't want to "burden" us, yet he is also not open to living in an assisted-living home. I am worried that he will hurt himself if he continues to live alone. How can we convince him that this is what he needs to do?

Concerned Daughter

Dear Concerned Daughter,

It is beautiful to hear of a healthy and loving relationship between father and daughter. And it sounds like you were fortunate to truly be Daddy's little girl growing up. But now you are no longer a little girl, and your father is no longer the young man he once was. Convincing him of that, however, is the hard part.

Changing roles is going to be difficult for both of you. You write that your father always loved to give to you and protect you. Changing roles where you help take care of him is definitely going to be difficult for both of you. I am sure his pride is hurt by his physical needs, and you want to be careful with that since he is used to being the one in control and the one taking care of things. You clearly love and respect your father, and your desire to have him live with you is a beautiful display of the commandment to honor one's parents. Yet part of honoring him will be giving him the space he needs, and the ability to also decide what he feels is right for him. Assuming that his mental capacities have not been diminished, there is no reason that he can't weigh his options and decide what he is most comfortable with.

Regarding assisted living possibilities, do some research. Find out if he has any friends living in any of the locations available. Have them speak to him and urge him to consider it. Ask you father if he would like to go and check out some different places. Make a day trip out of it; and make it clear that you are not pushing him to decide, you just want him to know what is available.

In terms of moving in with you, that might be harder to convince him of. It doesn't sound like he wants to be dependent on anyone, let alone his daughter. The more you can ensure that he continues to feel independent, the better. I am not sure of the set-up in your home, but if you can assure him his privacy, ideally if he would have his own entrance to the home, it might not make him feel so much like he is intruding on your lives.

The Talmud (Berachot 17a) says: "A person should always be 'crafty' in his fear [of G‑d]." Practically, this means that sometimes it's difficult to observe a mitzvah by following conventional and "straight" methods. At these times, we have to use our brains to figure out how to do it—even if it means using "devious" methods.

Your situation is a perfect example: if you want to be a straight-shooter, you'd tell your father, "Listen, Dad, your health is deteriorating, for your own good I think you should move in with us.... we'd love to treat you like a king!" But chances are that he'll then feel his independence is being threatened, and will flatly turn down your offer.

Let him know how much his presence would add to your livesSo here, for your father's own good, and in the interest of observing the commandment to honor your father, you may have to approach this with "craftiness."

I would think, therefore, that rather than telling him you want to take care of him, let him know how much his presence would add to your lives. Let him feel he would be helping you by living with you. Let him know that you would really love another person in the home as it is hard for you to be by yourself when your husband is working or out of town or whatever the situation may be. If you have smaller kids, let him know that your children desperately want to spend more time with him and want him as an active part of their daily lives. Perhaps you could make it seem that he is doing you the favor by being there, by being able to help you with your life.

If ultimately he doesn't want to move, then it is up to you to ensure that he be in a safe environment. At that point he would need to think about hiring help in the home during the time he would need it most. And you probably shouldn't be the one to explain to him what he needs. You are his daughter and it might be too much for him to feel that you are telling him what to do. I would suggest speaking with a social worker or his doctor, and have an unbiased 3rd party explain to him what is necessary for his health in terms of his living situation.

Your father might be getting older, but that doesn't mean he can't and shouldn't remain very active. Try to take him out— to spend time with his friends, to do the things that he enjoys most. The more he is doing and involved with others, the better he will feel about himself and the less he will be reminded of what he is losing and what is changing. Use this as an opportunity to spend even more time with him and connect to him on an even deeper level. Even if you become his caretaker, he will always be your father and you will always be his little girl. Make sure he knows that! Good luck!