Helping in the decision with an elderly loved one to move from their long-term home into a senior community is one of the most difficult during one’s life. There may be denial, resistance and outright anger directed at you as the caregiver for your concern for their safety and well-being. But there are some things that you can prepare for through on-going conversations with mom and dad or Aunt Marie.
Don’t try to tackle these in one sitting, unless safety warrants it. If you start now and continue these conversations over several months, your loved one will feel involved in the process and that they are integrally involved in the decision-making. Remember to exercise patience and compassion, and eventually you’ll be able to set some planning ‘milestones’ to shoot toward. Our first topic will be one of the most challenging issues: are mom and dad in agreement that they need to move to a senior community? If not, some options to consider include:
Home Modifications. Perhaps your loved one is basically healthy, mobile and able to live independently, but is beginning to have some problems with balance and falls, homes can fairly easily be modified with ramps, stabilizing bars in the bathroom, larger TV and telephone keypads, etc. Elder care professionals and Certified Senior Advisors can assist you in accessing contractors and vendors who specialize in working with senior mobility and safety needs.
In-Home Care. there are many different levels of services to choose from ranging from several hours weekly for companionship care in which help can be provided with shopping trips, light housekeeping, and doctor’s transportation to certified registered nurses, and everything in between. There are companies that now specialize in providing services to seniors for bookkeeping, transportation, emergency response and much more. Important issues to consider include how does the in-home care company screen staff? What is their staff turnover, i.e. do they have long-time employees or are they constantly having to retrain new staff? Have there been any complaints made against the company for client neglect or abuse? Can they accommodate having the same staff person assigned each week to build a relationship with the family member or is it someone new week-to-week? Weigh the costs of additional hours of in-home care support against the service and support they will receive in a senior community and that is included as part of the monthly fee.
Adult Day Health Care. If your loved one lives with a full-time caregiver, especially if it’s you, Adult Day Health Care is a viable option to provide respite for ½ to full day increments. These facilities are specially equipped for all types of senior care giving issues, including dementia/Alzheimer’s, mobility, social activities, etc. Remember that many caregivers begin suffering their own health challenges during the time trying to juggle job, children and care giving responsibilities. Just like the airlines instruct us to do in case of emergency to “Put on your oxygen mask first, and then assist your children”, you must realize that you can only be a caregiver when you’re also caring for yourself. Find out what ‘refills your tank’, whether it’s exercise, meditation, connecting with nature or dancing and build that into your lifestyle.
Aging in Place. This is an option especially good for those families with positive, cooperative dynamics and family relationships. If you are close with your mom and dad, you may want to move them into a part of the house that grown children have vacated or even live in a special ‘mother-in-law’ type apartment on the same property. This option requires open, honest communication on both sides about expectations, boundaries, finances, and more.
Leaving the ‘door’ open for return to their original housing. Some seniors may feel OK making a move to a senior community if their current home or apartment can be maintained for 4-8 weeks while they ‘try out’ their new residence. Financial considerations need to be considered, but many times, seniors will be more open to trying something if they feel like they won’t be ‘stuck’ there.
This article is part of my 7 part series titled “7 factors to consider when choosing a senior community.” For more information, visit www.togetherintransitiontoday.com and sign up to receive my free report.
Together in Transition
Catherine Fritz, Principal
P. O. Box 661156, Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 745-2700 phone/voice mail
(310) 821-9799 fax