For Esther Rabinowitz, one of the most difficult decisions of her life came in the year 2001. Her mother, a sharp independent woman of 88 years, had lived alone in Brooklyn, New York, for the majority of her later life, but had quickly become frail. Initially, walking to and from the neighborhood bakery was quite easy, but as the years passed, climbing the stairs to the apartment building and navigating the busy streets became a daily battle.
Unfortunately, like many adult children who face the need to move their loved ones into an assisted living facility the words seem cold, strange and impossible to utter.
After a few months, a disturbing call came in. Her 88-year-old mother had suffered a mild heart attack and had been admitted to the hospital. Using this time wisely Rabinowitz began to share her concerns with her mother. While she thought her mother would understand the need to move. She was met with fierce resistance and was firmly told by her mother that there was no way she would move.
These are some of the most heart wrenching words the child can hear from an elderly parent. How is it possible for a child to convince their elderly parent that it is in their best interest to move to a long-term care facility?
Experts universally agree that one of the hardest decisions a child will have to ever make is moving their parents to a nursing home or assisted living facility. The primary reason for this is, that most seniors have an unrealistic view that they are able to care for them self for the rest of their life. In respect, this is where children or other family members can help in identifying the problem and work collectively to instigate change.
In an effort to make this process easier, begin communicating about the future with your parents regardless of their age. By opening the lines of communication in the early stages, words like nursing home begin to lose their sting in future conversations. Experts believe that by laying down this communication groundwork in the early stages, children and parents will benefit in the long run.
In order to avoid these problems, it is important to have conversations with parents about what the future will hold. All too often, experts say that children do not make it their problem and instead make it their parents’ problem. By talking about it and letting your mother or father know your concerns about them living alone you will achieve better results than telling them what they will or will not do.
Experts agree that 9 out of 10 parents do not want to burden their children and as a result will often respond to this honest communication method. Parents are known to hide stuff from their children in an effort to avoid scaring their children. But if their children come across as being an advocate and showing their genuine concern about their parents, will make making the hard decisions easier.
Dealing With a Resistant Parent
Psychologists who counsel individuals in situations of having to move an elderly loved one, know the difficulties all too well. They however, conclude that while there are no tricks or magic strategies in persuading an elderly loved one to move, by having children ask their parent or loved one to indulge them in visiting an assisted living facility, it will greatly decrease the tensions for all.
When placed under duress, the majority of us will resist regardless of how sound a plan or another person’s arguments are. With that said, psychologists believe that by encouraging parents to visit assisted living facilities they will more than likely move to a different location and/or change their lifestyle if they feel that they have done this on their own accord.
If a loved one is refusing to even entertain the idea of moving then psychologists suggest that the child back off and seek out other opportunities to bring the issue up in nonconfrontational ways.
In many instances, psychologists believe that things may have to get worse before they get better. It may take a parent, falling, being spooked by burglars or even having the electricity turned off as they simply forgot to pay the bill. While this is not always the case, it can wake up a stubborn parent who is refusing to move. However, in many cases it may also be necessary for healthcare providers or other family members to encourage the parents to move to an assisted living facility.
Creating a Care-giving Team
The truth is that care-giving is a family responsibility and needs to include all siblings and immediate family members such as aunts and uncles. It is important for all of these family members to address the ailing loved ones situation, by initially coming together and discussing the problem without the loved one being present.
It is important during this meeting to address financial issues, who will act as the elders Durable Power Of Attorney for healthcare issues, and one individual should be delegated to make critical decisions. While experts agree that this needs to be a family approach, they advised that one person should be the primary advocate for the loved one in need of care. This individual, regardless of who they are needs to be able to make final decisions and act as the Durable Power Of Attorney for health care needs.
Regardless of how smooth the move of a loved one to a care facility goes many children retain guilt for moving their parents into such a facility. Experts suggest that even though a child may have promised their parent or loved one that they would never put them in such a place that the decision needs to be based on what is best for the loved one to maintain a quality of life.
Probably, one of the most loving acts that children or family members can provide their parent/s or loved one is placing them in a nursing home or assisted living center. While the quality of nursing homes varies, they generally provide an added quality of life and loved ones often, to their surprise, thrive within the nursing home environment.