For Sons and Daughters
One of our clients recently told us, “My father passed away five years ago. About a year ago, I started to notice a decline in my mother’s health and abilities. I tried to chat with my mom about her future, but she cut the conversation off, telling me, ‘Promise that you’ll never put me in a nursing home – I’d rather die at home.’ My mom, even if it means she would pass tomorrow, is adamant about not going into assisted living. I’m seriously contemplating placing mom into assisted care, because it’s becoming increasingly clear that she can’t care for herself. I know I’m doing the right thing, but still, it feels like I’m stabbing mom in the heart.”
Expect the decision to place your elderly parent into assisted care as one of the most difficult you will make. If you’re asking, “Is my parent ready for assisted care?” the time for transition is probably closer than you realize. Some of the warning signs can be subtle and harmless, but other signs can be tragic. Be honest with yourself, and ask if there is:
- Escalating medical needs
- Increasing aggression
- Decreasing mental capacity. Forgets, wanders, more easily confused
- No longer able to adequate care for himself or herself
- No longer able to manage financial affairs
- Cognitive impairment, i.e., can’t get in and out of the bath tub without care
- Medication management; isn’t take the right dose at the right time
- Incontinence issues
- Lacks social and physical support
- Poor eating habits; i.e., potato chips for every dinner
- Has undergone a major medical procedure, and is not fully recuperating
- Drastic weight loss
- An unfavorable prognosis for future health
- You’re burning out in your roll of a care giver, stretching beyond your time and abilities.
If you’re nodding your head up-and-down, and have answered “Yes!” to two or more on this list, then it’s time to think about your parent’s future. Approaching with understanding and empathy, you can make a decision based upon what’s best for the entire family. As health declines and warning signs accumulate, you need to assess your elderly parent can continue to live safely at home alone. If you’re trying to sort through your parent’s present reality, and your own web of thoughts and feelings, keep these factors in mind:
Don’t feel guilty. As a child of an elder parent, your ultimate responsibility is providing the right care, which may or may not be want your parent wants. Your parent’s future shouldn’t be solely defined by their rock-hard view. Instead, plan for your parent’s future needs, factoring the availability of other family members to care for.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Kids say, “I’ll never put my parent in an old folks home” or “I’ll do whatever it takes to keep mom at home.” This seems valiant and loving, but the unintended consequences can be severe. Your parent’s living situation can change, such as falling twice in one week or forgetfully leaving the burner on the stove and then going to bed. Creating absolute rules against an evolving situation is a recipe for heart ache and disaster. Many adult children make this promise before they have children of their own, and find that they simply do not have time to care for both.
Expect contradictory emotions. The thought of placing mom or pop into assisted living is complex. There’s the obvious guilt and feelings of letting down your parent, while also feeling relief and ease that your parent will be more skillfully cared for. You’re happy at the prospect of your parent moving into a better environment, but will worry if your parent can adjust.
Don’t expect your caregiving to end. With your parent in a senior care facility, that doesn’t mean your caregiving ceases. Your parent still needs you, in a different way now. Instead of being a caregiver, you can have a parent/adult child relationship again, and this is a happy outcome for you both. Rather than transporting your mom to her hospital appointments, you are spending time playing cards with her. The goal remains the same; to make sure your parent is safe ,content and even thriving.
Finally, rely upon the wisdom of advisors, talking with those who professionally deal with this journey in a family. You can start that conversation by calling 1-855-444-7364 or use the chat box in the lower right hand corner of your window, and our services are free. You needn’t feel worried or overwhelmed any longer.
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