How do we know when it’s time for mom or dad to transition from their home and seek assisted living? Ideally you would like this to happen prior to a disabling fall or event that leaves your loved one unexpectedly unable to remain at home and looking at a long stressful recovery. The burden of trying to recover and make large decisions regarding their living arrangements all at the same time is especially stressful. If we are fortunate, the idea to move usually begins with one small event. The less fortunate usually experience crisis and often that crisis is related to health. It is very helpful to start having these transition discussions with loved ones as soon as possible.
Experience tells us that those enlightened enough to plan ahead will have a better quality of life and certainly a larger part in the decision to move, if and when it becomes necessary. The adult children of aging and frail parents will often find themselves trying to help them understand this concept with a fair amount of pushback to be expected. Each chapter of our lives bring new challenges and fret. For example, if you can recall when you made the transition from middle school to high school and the anxiety it brought. We all experience these different chapters in life at different time intervals, and come out stronger and better off because of them.
Why the resistance you may ask yourself? Is this really right if my parents’ are balking at the idea of a move? Many, well into their eighties or nineties have lived through some of the toughest times in history. They experienced the great depression, WWII and the Cold War. They are the stiff upper lip generation who learned to stand on their own and fend for themselves. If they needed something done, they did it themselves. There is a deep and commendable pride that comes from their independent way of life and hard earned accomplishments. For many, asking for help is a sign of failure riddled with shame. Many had one job, one wife, one house. Change does not come easy. Some fought in combat, raised large families and owned businesses. The idea of not being able to live independently in their home is not only strange and frightening, but when the suggestion to move comes from your child, it might be an unwelcome request.
We hear many adult children say, “my parents are getting so frail it seems now I’m the parent.” For some, this can be a true reality. However, understanding that your parents are adults and have ideas and choices to make will help you as you approach the discussion of moving. You may not be able to convince them of anything. They may have to arrive at the decision on their own. You can, however, take the lead in this often difficult project. In some cases it is about who says it. Asking open ended questions that will allow for your parents to arrive at the decision of a move on their own can do wonders. You may not be able to convince them to move, but you and others can illustrate to them how their lives, and yours, will improve if they do. You might call upon a long standing business associate or even a friend who has successfully made the move. Often a trusted friend or physician can help. They are authority figures and they are not family, which makes it easier for the older adult to accept the recommendation to move.
As adult children, we must be cautious not to tell our parents what’s best for them. They are, after all, our parents. They have been doing things for us all their lives. Why not ask them to do this for you? If you have been doing double duty shopping, taking them to the doctor, doing their yard work, they may begin to understand how this impacts your life. This will be especially pertinent if you are a member of the sandwich generation caring for your own children at the same time. They will usually like the idea of getting to spend quality family time with you rather than see you in passing while you are completing the tasks they are unable to on their own. Help your parents feel that the decision is theirs. The sooner you open the discussion the easier it will be. It seems that what our parents fear most is losing control. The longer they wait to make a decision the more inevitable that loss of control will be.
Check back often as we will have more to say on this topic. Watch for up-coming information and seminars on the upside of downsizing.
For more information: Call to speak with one of our Certified Senior Care Advisors.