Making the decision about when to move mom or dad into an alternative living community isn’t easy. In many cases mom or dad have been in the same home for several years. It’s where they’re comfortable and feel the connection with their past. They raised their children here. There were countless holidays with friends and family. The memories are endless and that’s a huge part of the difficulty in moving them to a different, unfamiliar place. But you are at a point where you worry about their safety and isolation. Since one or the other spouse has passed, they are alone now. You and your siblings are living maybe out of state, or even if living nearby, you still have very busy lives, jobs, children of your own to raise, and the list goes on.
You can’t be with Mom and Dad all the time and wonder if he or she is taking their medication as prescribed or at all, eating healthy or again eating at all, having any interaction with other people, or are they stuck in the house all day — alone. Are they getting increasingly forgetful? There have been instances where they have endangered themselves by forgetting things such as turning off the stove, leaving the door unlocked, etc. Do they seem depressed and sad most of the time? If you find yourself relating to many of these issues, then it’s time to make that big decision, not just for your peace of mind, but for the safety and welfare of your loved one.
Once you’ve made the decision to move mom/dad to a senior community, that’s just one step of many that will need to be taken to accomplish the move. Most importantly is the need to talk to your loved one about it. They need to feel included in the decision. You may have to approach them more than once to discuss moving, especially if they become upset and resentful. On the first approach you might need to make the conversation brief, but at least you will have planted the seed. If they have friends or other family members in senior communities who are having a positive experience, perhaps they would be willing to talk to them about their experience, their initial fears and the positive outcome.
If they invited mom or dad over for a tour of the community and maybe even dinner there, that would alleviate some fears. If that isn’t a possibility, you can call around to different communities and have literature sent to you which you could share with your loved one. Set up tours of different communities. And if you would like to tour the communities prior to bringing Mom or dad, that’s absolutely acceptable, and even encouraged. There are many to choose from and not every community is a good fit for everybody.
However you approach it, you want to make sure that they understand you are concerned about them and give examples of some of your concerns. For example, stress that in a community they will be safe, have access to medical assistance whenever needed, will have many activities to get involved in and opportunities to meet others who have similar interests.
It’s not an easy thing, that’s for sure. It’s a big decision and can be overwhelming with all that is involved. Fortunately, there are professionals who can assist you in finding the right place for your loved one. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.