Downsizing? Moving to assisted living or a nursing home?
How to best accomplished this as we try to help parents age well.
As we would expect, independent-living parents who decide by themselves to make a move, leads to the best outcome. They maintain control. They decide when and where and have full responsibility. This doesn’t mean adult children play no part. They can can “weigh in” when asked, but don’t run the show. Suggestions may be particularly helpful to–and welcomed by–aging parents who move to be nearer their children and grandchildren.
“Partnering” is a popular concept. While partnering with older parents to make this kind of decision sounds fine, it’s tricky. If children badger parents enough, chances are older parents lose the will to argue and give in to something they really don’t want. Result: if parents are unhappy, children end up with additional problems and wonder why parents agreed to the move in the first place.
This is undoubtedly why some unhappy, independent aging parents who may need a bit of help, have checked themselves out of assisted living, returned to living independently and figured out how to get the help they need.
Keeping independent-type parents’ homes unsold/unrented until parents are comfortably and happily settled, prevents their being “trapped” in a possibly unhappy living situation. It’s a good solution, when affordable. Check out my post about Rodney’s sobering–but true–story.
Yet some older people thrive in assisted living. They may have friends there. They may have felt isolated living alone and enjoy the socialization; or in the case of a friend’s mother (whose husband dominated when alive), she loved the “assisted part”–prepared meals, amenities, the activities– she was like a bird let out of a cage.
The biggest challenge: older parents who resist moving, but need to move because their needs can not be met otherwise. Given the situation, let their doctor be the “bad guy”– s/he is a logical professional to explain why moving is necessary.
Another good option is enlisting help from a geriatric social worker, who has helped families deal with this problem countless times. When there’s a threat to life and limb, sometimes there’s no choice: we do what’s necessary in a caring way that won’t leave us with unnecessary guilt or a damaged relationship.
When we do our best to help aging parents, don’t we ultimately help ourselves? As we deal with these issues, two thoughts are worth keeping in mind:
1. IS IT BETTER FOR OUR PARENTS OR BETTER FOR US?
2. IS IT BETTER FOR OUR PARENTS TO DO “X” AND LIVE LONGER, UNHAPPILY
DO “Y” AND LIVE POSSIBLY LESS LONG, BUT HAPPIER?