The holiday season is over and many people area are now left with a sobering realization that loved ones they hadn’t seen in more than a year need help. The warning signs that can be masked by distance like hygiene, trouble standing, and stacks of unpaid bills became obvious as families reunited with aging parents over the last few weeks.
Now adult children are left with difficult questions about what to do next. Should we move mom to a senior community? Does dad need a caregiver? Is it time to downsize to a smaller home?
Our local senior relocation experts at Caring Transitions are providing the "Tough Transitions Playbook" to help local families recognize the problem and navigate the challenging conversations ahead. This is important for family caregivers and caring friends who are likely feeling alone and don’t know where to turn.
- Is it time? The first step is to figure out if this is the right time to begin the transition to a smaller and more manageable home or assisted living. Here are a few questions you can ask:
- Did you notice a change in hygiene? Did she appear to have clean hair? Did he suddenly start growing an unkempt beard? Was there a noticeable and uncharacteristic body odor?
- Were there expired items in the refrigerator? This could mean your loved one isn’t eating enough and isn’t paying attention to basic health and safety.
- Are there stacks of unpaid bills? Stacks of unpaid bills can cause financial problems for an aging parent and are a major sign he or she can no longer keep up.
- Did your loved one struggle to get around the home? If you noticed trouble getting in or out of chairs, a slow shuffling pace or frequent stumbling, it’s time to consider a home that is more suited to a senior’s needs.
- Did you witness a lack of interest in hobbies? Maybe your mother is an avid piano player and you noticed the piano covered in dust. Perhaps your father loves to read, but you didn’t see a book by his bedside. These are signs your loved one’s zest for life is slipping.
- Consider your options. The second step is to research different strategies with other family members to find a good fit.
- It’s time to downsize. Your parent may not need help with daily living, but you have noticed they struggle to keep their large home clean and the grass mowed. This is a great opportunity to discuss moving to a smaller house or even a condo.
- It's time for in-home help. Your loved one could benefit from an in-home caregiver who can assist with light housework, bathing and daily living
- A fulltime care facility is the best option. Your loved one is struggling with all aspects of life from home upkeep to bathing. It’s time to move him to a fulltime care facility.
- Plan a move. Moving is listed as one of the most stressful events in a person’s life and it becomes even more stressful if that person has lived in the home for decades.
- Sort first. Pack later. The hardest part of the move is taking that first step. Help your loved one sort through what to keep, donate and throw away. Each can be labeled with a simple color-coded post-It note.
- Set a manageable schedule. Don’t expect your aging parent to work on this move late into the evening hours. Try to keep as close to their normal routine as possible.
- Limit the emotion. Save photo albums for late in the process. Trips down memory lane can cause increased angst and regret about the pending move.
Hire someone to help. Downsizing companies like Caring Transitions are specially trained to assist with these kinds of moves. Experts can help ease the stress, streamline the process and speed up the move.
Need help with a tough transition? We can help you or a loved one!