It is never easy placing a parent in an assisted living environment, but it is beyond bearable when mom doesn’t really want to go. She is probably reluctant to give up any of her prized possessions, including the home she lived in for so many years. To her, all those memories surrounding her day-to-day seemed to give her a sense of peace but what you saw was far different. You saw your mother struggling to maintain composure every time she happened to spot a picture of your father on a fishing trip, playing with your kids, or just sitting there with a cold cocktail by the pool on a warm summer’s night.
Addressing What She Isn’t Seeing
Unfortunately, what your mother isn’t seeing is that it is no longer safe for her to be alone due to age-related memory gaps and a few health-related issues that make it hard for her to live independently. Although you have room in your home, that isn’t a viable option because of the long hours you work when in town and those long business trips sometimes for months on end. Sadly, this would also leave her home alone much of the time. It is impractical to think that you could get home health care nurses around the clock affordably. The only option you have open to you is finding an assisted living setting in which there would be room for those memories to go along with her. In doing some online legwork, you happened upon the Brandywine assisted living Colt’s Neck NJ group of residences. It is near where you live in Seaside Heights, making it possible for you to visit her regularly when you’re in town. At this point, it becomes a matter of getting her to see that this is the best and safest thing for her to do at this time in her life.
The Perfect Balance Between Assisted and Independent Living
The thing that immediately grabbed your attention was the fact that there are various levels of assisted living. Some seniors are simply unable to keep up with the physical limitations common among the elderly. In your mother’s case, however, there are those memory gaps you are concerned about. She will put the tea kettle on and forget it until it has boiled dry. You don’t know how many times this has happened while you were away, but you have definitely experienced it several times when visiting her. This is not safe for her, and you are worried. What made you stop and consider assisted living was the fact that there are places in which your mom could benefit from assisted living in a setting that was almost independent living. With a perfect balance between the two arrangements, it just might work.
Make the Transition Slowly
One of the main problems so many children of aging parents encounter is rebellion when the transition happens within days or weeks of having made the decision to place a parent in a new home with new faces and fewer memories that she believes keep her grounded.
In fact, they don’t and are actually a detriment to a healthy lifestyle, but mom doesn’t see that. It has been suggested that once you’ve decided on a residence you make the move slowly for her. A high-end assisted living facility will make every effort to help you ease your mother into a new living arrangement slowly.
Ask whether you can bring mom around during art classes or movie matinees on an afternoon or two. Maybe she would like to sit outside while some of the residents are out there playing Mahjong. If she can strike up a friendship with a few people there, the move will not nearly be as traumatic for her.
Ask About Any Restrictions on Visits
Another problem area in some assisted living homes is that weekend or overnight guests are not allowed. Your mom will want you to spend a night with her every now and then reminiscing on the old times and simply just being in the presence of her child whom she loves so much.
It is imperative that you work through any restrictions that may be in place to confuse or potentially frighten her. Bear in mind that some restrictions are necessary so they must remain in place for her good and the good of the entire community there.
It would actually be in the best interest of all if you could spend a few days with your mother at the very beginning, so she doesn’t feel like she’s being thrown to the wolves. However, you must find a way to get it through to her that you will not be residing there with her but will definitely come for overnight visits as often as possible. That part of your relationship will not change and once she understands that the transition should be much, much smoother.
You Are Doing the Right Thing
There is one other area that can be the hardest to face. Many adult children of aging parents feel a sense of obligation. No matter what they went through in life their mother was always there. This is not a case of abandoning your mother but doing what is best for her in terms of health and safety. You are doing the right thing by ensuring she gets the care she needs in the softest possible setting. It is important that you understand your mother will pick up on your emotions, that’s what mothers do. Whether she is approaching dementia or not she will sense that something is wrong if you feel any guilt or remorse. How can she be safe if you feel guilty leaving her there?
You must get it through your head that you are not the problem. You are the solution, and it is your great love for your mother that prompts you to make this decision for her. She is unable to make a lifestyle choice of this magnitude, so you are carrying the weight. That is nothing to feel guilty about because now you know she is safe.