by Matt Del Vecchio
We were recently with a woman touring retirement residences for her mother. She mentioned a common issue: “Mom wants to stay at home.” The truth is that the vast majority of us would want to stay at home. It’s only human nature.
We always encourage people to stay at home as long as possible providing they are safe and
secure and that the burden of home ownership does not become too overwhelming. However, there eventually comes a time for them to move from their home to a senior community.
These are difficult and emotional decisions, especially when there may be denial and resistance
from the person moving and/or adult children or their loved ones — a subject we will address in future articles. We encourage family members to communicate with one another and express their feelings and concerns openly.
We were working with a family whose mother was experiencing mobility issues. She had a walker and was having more difficulty getting around. She could no longer do stairs. Bathing was also a concern. She had slipped more than once. It reached a point that the family decided to investigate senior living options where their mom could be safe and secure.
Memory is always a sensitive family conversation. A son brought us in to assess his mother’s home. The first thing we noticed was a stack of unpaid bills as well as sticky notes with reminders in different rooms.
We learned several appointments had been missed. We found expired food in the fridge and pantry. There was an incident where the oven had been left on. There was a time when his mom had to be hospitalized for a fall. The doctor determined that it was due to improper use of medication. She had doubled her pills that day. These are frightening concerns that need to be addressed, but in a respectful manner.
Family caregiver concerns
The emotional, mental and physical toll of caring for a loved one can be overwhelming for adult children or spouses. We have seen too many people who have experienced serious health concerns which, in fact, compounded the challenges at home. We will address this issue, which often goes hand in hand with the subject of denial, in later articles.
Loneliness and isolation
We were assisting a woman whose husband had died two years before. She had become lonely and depressed. She eventually made the move to a residence and within a couple of months, had met new friends and was increasingly involved in social activities despite being an introvert.
It isn’t always that smooth. Often isolated seniors don’t realize how much easier it would be for them to be in a community environment or don’t recognize how lonely they really are.
When considering your options, helping your loved one recognize when it’s time to move,
having an open dialogue with the family members involved, and taking the time to discuss the options will go a long way in easing the transition to a senior community. The line we hear the most after someone has moved to a residence is, “We should have done this long ago”.
Matt Del Vecchio is the owner of Lianas Services Senior Transition Support and host of Life Unrehearsed, which can be heard on CJAD800 Sundays at 4pm. firstname.lastname@example.org