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The Emotional Toll of Moving Your Spouse or Older Parent to Senior Living

AngryHurtabigail-keenan-99C5lrAyxpQ-unsplash (2)Photo credit Abigail Keenan

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. For most of us, the feeling is less about how large or fancy a residence is than about it being a place where we feel safe and where we have created countless memories with those closest to us. Furthermore, we fill our homes with things we enjoy and belongings that remind us of loved ones and good times. Now, put yourself in your parent’s shoes. They’ve likely lived in the same home for many years, but they’re getting older and their needs are changing. Mom or Dad is having trouble getting around, needs more help with activities of daily living (ADLs), and could probably use some more company. You know that a move to senior living would be wise, but you’re also well aware of the many obstacles that lie ahead on that path. Before jumping right in, do some soul searching and think carefully about how you plan to maintain compassion, boundaries, and self-awareness throughout this transition process. 

Broaching the Subject of Senior Living: How do you approach this difficult decision? Leaving the house behind will be difficult for your parent, but you also care about their health and safety. Talk it over with your spouse and siblings and check with friends or coworkers who may have already gone through this with their own parents. Consult a caregiver support group, staff at the senior living community you have in mind, and any other resources that may be able to offer some sage advice. It’s usually best to bring up the subject with your parent when things aren’t going so smoothly at home. Aim for a day when there are plumbing problems or when the bill is due for lawn maintenance. It’ll give you an opportunity to casually segue into the conversation rather than bring it up out of the blue. Express your understanding of their desire to age in place but point out the importance of planning for the future and the benefits that come with moving. Don’t seek commitment right away, as it may appear you have already made the decision for them. Help your mom or dad feel that this matter is entirely in their control, and you’re just there for support. Encouraging Tours of Senior Living: I took my mother to several assisted living facilities after our initial conversation. While looking at rooms, we discussed where she would put the things she wanted to keep...

Continue reading on Agingcare for more talk about the intricacies and emotional toll of moving a parent to a care facility:

Support a caregiver or jump-start discussion in support groups with real stories - for bulk orders of Minding Our Elders e-mail Carol  

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