Thursday, May 14, 2009

When It's Time to Move A Parent

There comes a point in time when many of us get the phone call. Sometimes it comes in the middle of the night, sometimes during the day while you are at work. In most cases, the message is the same: your parent needs help, they are sick, they cannot be left alone. If you are lucky, this is a temporary situation, perhaps a broken bone that mends easily or a cold that heals quickly. But it’s not always that simple, and sometimes we are faced with the daunting challenge: what are we going to do with our parents?

For those unfamiliar with the landscape of elder care the challenge can seem daunting. If you start your research in the area you live in, you may find a number of independent living, assisted living, and senior care facilities. Each of them is equipped to meet the unique needs of individuals and offer a variety of specific services. Perhaps the best advice I can offer is this: when it comes to relocating your parent, your best resource is yourself. Visit the facility. Don’t make an appointment, show up unexpectedly (if there’s something they’re trying to hide, they won’t have time to sweep it away before you get there). Be sure you are armed with a list of questions, and take notes. Usually these places are fairly expensive, so you want to be certain of the services, rules and regulations.

For example, if you move your parent to an independent living facility that offers cooked meals in a dining room, transportation and laundry service, you may assume that mom and dad are all set. But does the facility have a rule if your parents get sick? Will they have to leave if they need more care? Will they (or you) be able to afford a home health aide along with the cost of the facility?

Unfortunately, due to the rising number of seniors, many facilities now have a waiting list. If you visit on a Wednesday, odds are you won’t be able to move mom in on Friday. You will want to be prepared for this and have a backup plan for in-home care.

One of the most difficult challenges can be caring for our parents. Sometimes they don't want care, sometimes they don't understand that we are trying to help. Those of us in the sandwich generation are facing caregiving tasks that are sometimes thrown at us unexpectedly. With the right amount of research and a good amount of support (from family or support groups) you will be able to make a decision on what is best for your parents and your family. Remember, we can only do the best we can do, and each decision, although it may be heartbreaking, is the right one for whatever your situation may be.

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