The whole family is gathered around the table at mom's house for Thanksgiving. It's been awhile since you've all been together as everyone lives out of town, and you've all been anticipating the big meal. Mom's usual spread is a feast for both eyes and stomach--mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, biscuits, pumpkin pie, and, of course, the turkey. Everyone is eager to dig in, but just as uncle Vern pulls out the knife to carve into the main dish, you all witness a flash of confusion in his eyes as soon as it touches the bird. Fresh from the oven, the 18-pound turkey is still frozen solid. That's when you notice that mom has been a little quieter than her usual, vibrant self. Maybe the stress of preparing the holiday meal for everyone was getting to be a little too much for her. Then you recall seeing the various post-it notes around the house with reminders and instructions on how to operate everyday appliances that she's always known how to use. What else haven't you been around to notice lately?
Holidays can often serve as vital opportunities for family members to check in on their older loved ones. As you watch your parents get older, there may be times when you fear for their well-being. Not everyone can age in place in their own home, for any number of reasons: health issues, psycho-social stability, financial concerns or household safety. If you are seeing a decline in a loved one's cognitive ability as a result of Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia, or another medical condition that requires more extensive care, there is an even greater reason to be concerned. When someone can no longer remain at home it may be time to make one of the most difficult decisions - helping your loved one take the physical, financial, emotional and psychological steps to leave familiar surroundings and move to a new place which may provide more assistance or supervision.
Often the first inclination is to move mom or dad into your own home. But this major life change deserves thoughtful examination and soul searching in terms of how it may affect your family's dynamics on many levels. It is best to explore all the options.
The entire process of deciding how, when and where to move an older loved one is a stressful undertaking. In our next series of posts on The Caregiving Coach, we will guide you through the challenging, yet rewarding process of finding a new home that can best meet the evolving needs of your loved one. We'll discuss if an adult child's home or a senior community is the optimal choice, the financial and legal considerations of a move, and finally, the physical and emotional aspects of managing a move.
First Step: Open Discussions
As your parents get older, their care needs will change, and in many cases become more challenging. It's essential to develop a strategy for providing care, and this requires both practicality and planning. A good action plan with "buy in" from the adult child and the parent can help minimize fears and hard feelings. But this can take some time and several family meetings. Unresolved conflicts or feelings of guilt or obligation need to be addressed and then put aside in order to give room for the best decision under difficult circumstances.
As a professional geriatric care management team, Your Eldercare Consultants can start the discussion of the available options and help families navigate through a potentially emotionally charged process.
Open and honest discussion with your parent as well as other family members is an essential first step when trying to determine if or when a parent's move is in his or her best interest. This issue may be revisited at various stages throughout the caregiving experience as your loved one's health and well-being changes.
Here are some topics to consider together as a family to get you started:
- All possible residential options. This can range from the home of an adult child to assisted or supportive living to skilled nursing care.
- The type of care needed. From little daily supervision to full-time memory support or medication management.
- Financial situation. Is the older adult able to contribute financially? Or will family members have to pitch in and pay for a parent's move to a new community?
- Each person's role in the transition. Will someone need to be a full-time family caregiver? Or can the older parent make a non-monetary contribution, like child care?
- Changes in lifestyle. Loss of privacy if a parent moves to an adult child's home or loss of discretionary funds if a parent needs some financial support.
- The location of the new home. Feeling uprooted by moving to a different neighborhood and or having to make new friends may cause extra anxiety for an older adult. Or it may be further away for some adult children to visit on a regular basis.
Some of these discussions will be very difficult and emotional, but expectations must be defined and clear to everyone involved to ease into the transition period.
Are you worried about an aging parent living at home? Have you and your family started the initial stages of talking about your concerns for a family member? Feel free to leave a comment or question for us below! For more resources for family caregivers, please visit our website atwww.YourEldercareConsultants.com.
Next post: Stay tuned for our next post later this month! We'll dive into living arrangements and housing options to consider when making a decision about "The Big Move."