The latter years of our lives are a unique stage. The memories are many, the responsibilities are potentially declining, and the body is undergoing changes that demand a new lifestyle. Seeing your parents approach this life stage can be confusing, challenging, and at times, heartbreaking. You are seeing the people who raised you start to need more and more help from other people, and you want them to have the most comfortable life possible so their remaining years are happy ones.
It is time to start figuring out what their next living situation is going to be. Maybe the house they live in is not safe for their fragile bodies, and the number of changes needed is too costly. Perhaps there are constant trips to medical practices to deal with certain issues and it is becoming frustrating. No matter the reason, you might need to start preparing your parents for life in a nursing home. Here are some things you should know about this subject.
When is it Time?
For some elderly individuals, the answer could be never. Not every person ends up in a nursing home. Some move to retirement communities while others downsize to a home that can meet their needs and is close to other care services that they require. Still, it is important to know the signs of your loved one needing to move to a nursing home so that you can start preparing as quickly as possible. Some of these signs include your parent struggling to live on their own, them being unable to do daily activities, or a constant need for medical care. There are other indicators, of course, but these are some of the easiest to identify.
The Reality of Abuse/Neglect
Perhaps your top concern about a move to the nursing home may be the safety of your aging parents. Recently, it has become more widely known that nursing home abuse and neglect are a problem in this country. Whether it is because of staff, other residents, or healthcare service providers, elderly individuals are particularly vulnerable to these scenarios. There are many questions about nursing home abuse that you could ask, but the most important thing you can do is face reality. Understand that there is a small risk and use the resources you have to research each facility to see if it is reliable and safe for your loved one. Talk about the issue out loud so that you can discuss the signs of abuse and how to practice self-advocacy.
Starting the Conversation
The most awkward part of the nursing home conversation may be just getting it started in the first place. Often, older individuals do not like change, so the thought of moving from their decades-long home to a new place with lots of strangers rarely sounds appealing, and they will let you know about it. Honest and open conversation is the key to a productive dialogue on the subject, so start the conversation by doing more listening. What are their needs and concerns? What do they like or not like about the concept of a nursing home? What fears do they have? Be an active listener and then do not be forceful when suggesting a solution. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to move to a nursing home should be a joint decision, not a law written by you, their child. Be supportive when discussing the nursing home move.
Be the Support They Need
If the decision is made that your parent will move to a nursing home, then you may need to step up more than ever during this next stage. The first few months can be difficult as they adjust to a new way of life filled with other people. Perhaps they will feel like their freedom is restricted in some way or they are tired of the daily routines. You can be strong emotional support for your parents during this time. Offer to visit more often than you normally would for a little while. Bring some fun games or activities with you when you do go. Can’t make it in person for whatever reason? Then give them a quick call or video call. The more supportive and loving you can be as they make this move, the more they will see how much you care and the transition may go smoother.
Ask For Help
You are not the first adult to consider having their parents move into a nursing home. A lot of people have been through the same process in the past. Maybe there is even a support group that you can join for people that are caretakers for their parents. There are also plenty of online resources, guiding those who are facing these tough conversations so that they can be approached in a healthy and productive way. Be willing to ask for help during this complex process and you are likely to find it.