I remember vividly the moment I knew that a major change was needed for my parents. My mom had some major medical complications and needed a level of care my father could no longer provide. I was on the phone with my cousin, wandering through the grocery store, trying to find something to cook for their dinner. This became a nightly ordeal.
His early dementia (that would eventually lead to Alzheimer’s) and her short-term memory loss from a stroke, combined with congestive heart failure, kidney issues, and diabetes meant they could no longer live at home on their own.
Stressed with their care, my job and care for my then teenage son, I was exhausted and unable to care for them as well.
My cousin, sensing my despair, urged me to consider Assisted Living Facilities (ALF’s) so that all of us would be able to live happier lives.
I searched and found the perfect solution—close to my home, affordable and with activities I was sure my parents would enjoy.
Within two weeks, I had them moved in and began renovating their home for sale, confident that life was back on track for everyone.
However, I made a huge mistake. I didn’t consult with my parents on the place I picked out and it caused some hurt feelings. The truth is, most seniors don’t choose to move to Assisted Living.
Here is what I could have done better.
1. Sit down with my parents to discuss the need to move
My parents had lived in their house for 37 years and the decision to move them was not theirs. There were other solutions I should have considered including home care.
2. Involve them in the selection of their new home
Once my parents knew they were moving, the decision had already been made on where they were moving to. I had invested the time to visit and explore all the options-looking at the places that were most convenient to me, were in our price range and had a few activities I thought my parents would enjoy. I never considered where their friends might be living and thought I was being the good daughter by taking care of the details for them. Instead, they felt shoved into a situation without any control.
3. Help them adjust
Being “relocated” was a big culture shock for my parents. Moving from a three-bedroom, two-bath home to a much smaller apartment was difficult in many ways. Besides feeling displaced, they weren’t able to take all their things with them and although I didn’t recognize it, depression set for both of them. I realize now that talking to a counselor may have made it easier for all of us.
My own exhaustion got in the way of making better decisions.
If you are going through something similar, know There are experts that can help guide you through the process and ease the stress and transition for everyone involved, including social workers, estate planning attorneys, religious organizations, and community organizations that specialize in seniors.