It’s a very uncomfortable feeling having to suddenly be thrust into the role of deciding if your mom or dad should move to assisted living. After all, you’re the ‘kid’ right? You’ve always listened to their advice, not the other way around. But, you’ve started noticing some signs that are making you wonder whether or not being in a more structured environment might not be a good idea.
However, you haven’t had ‘the talk’. You don’t know their finances and you don’t know if they would even be open to the idea. Yet, there are some very concerning signs that you have noticed when you visit that indicate a need to move on; the food is going bad in the refrigerator, mom or dad has lost some weight, they have forgotten to turn off the stove and a pot has burned, bills aren’t getting paid, and the house isn’t clean. Sometimes, it looks as though dad has been wearing the same dirty outfit whenever you see him. Does mom or dad have that same twinkle in their eye that they had years before, or could it be possible that they are lonely? Is either of them bruised from a fall? Has either of them started forgetting how to drive down to the store or get lost trying to get home? Has one parent passed away and the other is withering away from isolation and inactivity? These are all huge red flags that the concept of remaining at home alone is not healthy for them and creating a hardship for you.
It is excruciatingly hard for adult children to accept that their mom and dad are aging and they can’t really take care of themselves anymore. Since everyone ages differently and each case is different, there is no one age when this might happen.
Depending on your cultural background, you may have always been taught that you must take care of your parents in your own home when they can’t take care of themselves. You feel so guilty, but you know that, because of your lifestyle and your own responsibilities to your own children and husband or wife, this would be impossible.
As difficult as it may be, now is the time to begin a discussion and to start planning to make the change. It’s scary. You are now wading into the uncharted territory of turning the tables on your mom and dad. However, it is better that you should do it, than for an emergency responder to come to their house at 2:00 am to take one of them to the hospital for a fall.
Seek the help of a professional; a senior placement service, geriatric care manager, personal physician or social worker to guide you during the process. You don’t have to carry the entire burden of the process on your own shoulders. The more support you enlist, the easier the process will be. There are many very knowledgeable people out there who will be happy to help you during this stressful time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Without a doubt, in the majority of cases, most people take a sigh of relief when it’s over, and say, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”