The Guilt. Mom and dad made you promise never to put them in ‘one of those places’. You stay up late at night thinking about this promise; nevertheless, knowing that your parents are not safe to be alone at home any longer. You are aware of all of the logical reasons for mom or dad to move to a senior community, either independent living, assisted living or even memory care, but your emotions take over and you can’t and won’t let logic supersede this sudden pendulum shift from being just ‘the kid’ to being the ‘caregiver’.
There are so many factors that go into this decision; no two cases are alike and everyone’s relationships with their parents are also encased in years of family dynamics, great and not so great memories. Regardless of your current relationship, tag, you’re ‘IT’.
What’s Your situation? I’ve already pointed out that everyone’s situation is different, with no two being identical, there are many factors to take into account. Are both parents still alive? Do you detect a decline in their day to day function? Maybe one parent is technically the caregiver. That in itself is problematic, since it’s generally the caregiver whose health is at a greater risk with the added stress and physical toll that this role has on him or her. If your parent is widowed or single and living alone, you have the added responsibility of making sure they have all of their necessities.
If your parent is still making their own dinner or taking a shower and dressing, then it’s likely they will be an integral part of the decision to move to independent or assisted living. If you have noticed some lapses in memory, the bills aren’t getting paid (maybe the cable or electric and water have been shut off), then it’s time to take control of the situation. When you get to this point, something clearly needs to be done sooner, rather than later. However, many times, the dreaded ‘Guilt’ from Part 1 gets in the way of moving forward with a plan. Unfortunately, when we wait too long and typically let the situation drive us and not us driving the situation, bad events start to happen.
What bad events? Someone takes a fall, because they needed some assistance with bathing and dressing and they aren’t getting it. That can cause a fracture or a rapid decline in daily function, which suddenly throws you into a head spin because the ‘Guilt’ you were feeling in Part 1 paralyzes your logical thinking and you can’t get a plan together. Hindsight is always 20:20, but, if you are reading this, you are already thinking in the right direction.
It’s now time to take action. Enlist the help of someone who can walk you through the options. The most important steps to take are to make sure that mom or dad are safe, provided with good nutrition and hydration and their physical needs are being met. Then come the social needs, such as fellowship with other people their own age and stimulating activities, which can be found in a community setting. Initially, mom or dad needs to be safe. If you are still in the discovery mode, then hiring a home health caregiver may be the best option for now, although this option does not fulfill the social and stimulating activity requirements.
Finding the best option for your mom or dad is a process. It may or may not happen quickly. If you plan for it, you will have better, more long lasting results and a good outcome, which is for your parents to be happy and content in their new setting. If you wait for an accident to happen, the situation will dictate the result, which is not the best result for either your parent or you.