By Jacqueline Marcell, Author, Elder Rage
November 26, 2004
Think Safety First
Keep in mind that your loved ones' safety is the most important thing. If you know that they cannot remain in their own home safely, don't let your emotions override what you know needs to be done. Don't wait for a broken hip, a car accident, medicine overdose, or a crisis call before you step in. Recognize that when you were a child, your parents would have done everything possible to keep you safe. Now, as hard as it is, you have to be the "parent", and you have to make the best decisions for their safety.
Consider a Multi-Level Facility
Be sure to consider the benefits of a multi-level facility, which allows for additional services as your loved ones' health declines. This prevents the turmoil of having to move them to a new location as more services are needed. Many seniors start out with their own private apartment and then progress through stages of assisted living and eventually to skilled nursing and dementia care, all within the same facility. They may be able to bathe, dress, and take their own medications now, but as they need help, it's a blessing to know that services can be added. Many times the friends they have made along the way progress along with them, providing the comfort of familiar faces.
The best way to check out a facility is to talk to numerous families who already have their loved one living there. Drop in on the weekends when families are visiting and ask if they are happy with the accommodations, food, service, activities, cleanliness, reliability, personnel, etc. If they had it to do again, would they move their loved one there? What have they learned from the experience? What do they wish they had known when they were beginning the process? Be sure to eat a meal there yourself. Also, ask the administrators if there are any liens or lawsuits filed against the facility. Ask to review their licensing or certification reports. If they will not put in writing that there are no legal problems--keep looking! Also, be sure to check with your local Area Agency on Aging and the long-term care ombudsman who monitors the area.
Ask About Activities
Adult children are often filled with guilt for moving their parents out of their own home, that is, until they see them flourishing in a new environment and participating in activities they haven't enjoyed for years. Speak with the activity director to make sure that there are numerous activity options. Does the facility offer field trips, games, crafts, singing, dancing, gardening, cooking, bingo, exercising, movies, interaction with animals, etc.? Be sure to monitor the director regularly to make sure that the activities are being offered.
Create a Relationship
Once you have picked out the right place, ask the administrators for their help in convincing your loved one to move. The staff is very familiar with this problem and deal with it daily. Ask a social worker to call your parents and develop a relationship over the phone. He or she may be able to drop by (while you just happen to be there) to talk to your parents and invite them for a get-together. A few days later, take your parents out to lunch, then casually drive by the facility to say hello to that social worker who was so kind to drop by to visit them. Seeing a familiar face is usually very helpful. Remember, any kind of change can be very scary for an elder. Take things slow, planting the idea calm and steady, making their safety your goal.
Create a Need
Another idea is to have the social worker ask for your loved one's "help" with the other seniors at the center. Or tell them that they need help with something at the center. Could they, for example, go over to help out with the bingo, crafts, or singing classes? Perhaps they can help prepare lunch for the elders there. Tell your loved ones that they are "needed" there to help and entertain the seniors. Giving them a "job" to do will help them become comfortable with being there. They will make friends, which can then ease the transition to moving there. If you still get resistance, ask their doctor to encourage them to move--for their safety.
Reach for Support
Realize that since the beginning of time, everyone who has ever been lucky enough to have their parents reach old age has experienced the pain of watching their once-competent parents decline. We all know it is a part of life, but even with all that's been written, there are no words that can prepare us for the sorrow. Reach out for help from family and friends and look into a support group right away--don't even think you can do it alone!
For more information see www.ElderRage.com.
Distributed to SitNews for publication by Jacqueline Marcell.
For permission to republish all/part of this article,
contact Jacqueline Marcell at j.Marcell@cox.net