How do I decide to move my parent to an assisted living facility?

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Answered by: Ariel, An Expert in the Senior Housing and Community Category
Making that decision to move Mom to an assisted living facility is likely to be one of the hardest you will ever have to face. Likely there is not one person who has made that decision without a great deal of soul searching, tears and conflicted feelings. Often siblings are part of the confusion with one saying it must happen now, and another wanting mom to move to them - 1,000 miles away from friends and support system.

The key practical factors are Mom's opinion about continuing to stay in her own home, Mom's limitations, and the family's economic considerations.

The keys intangibles to successful decision making are love and respect, tolerance and patience, and realistic planning.

Is it vital for the dignity of your mother to feel that she has a say in the decision; therefore, the earlier on in the process you can broach the question of an assisted living facility the better, before memory loss or physical disability become more serious. Obviously, when your parents are in relatively good health, they can better express themselves, better reason out choices, and are better able to be objective.

Typically there are two divergent, but not always mutually exclusive choices. "Mom No. 1" may very well admit that the choice of some sort of assisted living facility may be inevitable down the road and possibly be the best choice. By the same token, Mom No. 2 may tell you in no uncertain terms that she never, never, never wants to leave her home.

Regardless of whether your mom is a No. 1 or a No. 2, let her desire be your cue to having her suggest just how her wish can be implemented. In the best of all situations, Mom needs to be involved in the process.

By the same token, you (the child) are no longer the child! When you accept that you must be in charge (together with siblings or spouse), please privately tell yourself to, at all costs, avoid condescension.

So now, here you are, alongside Mom, and navigating potentially choppy waters.

Mom No. 1 needs to take some easy trips with you to various places that are within price range and within driving for you. Keep your needs in mind also. The nearer Mom No. 1 can live to you and other caring family members, the better it will be for her and for you, long run. Frequent visits are essential when she moves.

Mom No. 1 also should consider putting together a small biography of her life with pictures so that the staff at the assisted living facility will know the beauty of who she was before. By the time your mom is ready for that move, she likely will not be able to be appreciated for the fullness of who she used to be. Making that known to her new caregivers will have a profoundly positive effect both on staff and the quality of care your mother receives.

And when the choice has been made and it is time for the move of Mom No. 1, help her to make her room a microcosm of her home. At first it will seem impossible. But careful, sensitive eyes will enable you to pull together some of her most precious and comforting things on a small scale, so that she is as “at home” as possible. She will be a big help in this. You will be surprised at the difference this will make to her acceptance of the change. The move can actually become enjoyable.

If it has been determined that Mom No. 2 can indeed stay at home, at least for now, she needs to do some trial runs with part-time caregivers. That’s where you come in. Be sure the caregiver is someone YOU relate to so that you are staying fully informed of how your mother is doing at all times. What she tells you and what the caregiver sees may well be two different stories.

This process with Mom No. 2 will be progressive starting with someone just for a few hours a few times a day. Build relationship there so hopefully the same caregiver can up the hours she spends with your mom as her needs increase.

Hope that this has helped. Be kind to yourself. And just love her.

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