How can I adjust to putting my mother into an Adult Family Home or nursing home in Shoreline?

One of the biggest challenges grown children of aging parents face is when and how to move their beloved parent into a more suitable living situation than having them stay with them indefinitely. Most of that challenge comes from guilt, probably, and also the deep-seated unwillingness to let go of one phase of their life and move in the next. It all seems so sudden and final. Whatever the emotional reasoning around such a potential move of residence, there are some very good reasons you can focus on, and it will help you make the best decision. Here are some of my points of reasoning on the topic:

An Adult Family Home is safer for a senior than most regular homes

Adult Family Homes are inspected regularly by the State of Washington. There are strict laws that apply to a business that wishes to operate as such, and all of these laws are for the benefit of the residents of the establishment. While many of us living in our own homes might often forget to replace that battery in the smoke detector, state inspectors check these in every Adult Family Home every year – sometimes more often – to see that they are in full working order. So, if there is a fire, all residents are automatically safer than they would be living in the home of their adult children.

Another advantage of an Adult Family Home over a regular home is, if there is ‘wake staff’ employed, your loved one is never left alone. There is always someone there to take care of their needs, and what’s more, they are qualified caregivers, and their primary focus is to do just that: take care of your loved one. In your own home, however, a loved one might be left to their own devices for perhaps even the entire day. Your kids go from school to their friends, and you are at work all day. That’s a long spell for an elderly to be alone, especially if they need care, or are in any way unfirm on their feet. What if they slip and fall, and might have to remain there until someone gets home? Well, none of that is a problem in an Adult Family Home because help is in another room if not right beside you.

Pressure mats to warn caregivers that someone has fallen or gotten out of bed; ringers to call for help positioned in strategic spots around the home, for example, in bathrooms or beside each bed; bathrooms custom-built to provide the precise living quarters a senior would need to remain as safe as possible. There are many factors that work well.

If you’ve ever had to child-proof a house to make it safer for children, you know what is involved. For seniors, you don’t need the exact same ‘proofing’, but, for example, when my father-in-law visited us, we installed a non-slip mat by the kitchen sink because he liked to help by doing the dishes. One slip there on the shiny Swedish wood floor, and he’d be in trouble, so a twenty-dollar mat was all that was needed to solve that problem.

There is company all day long, and with people of the same age

Working from home, sometimes several days might go by where I don’t meet another person. I talk on the phone, email people, chat online, and even Skype sometimes. But there is nothing to compare with face-to-face human interaction to keep a person from getting depressed. And with the elderly, the problem may be more acute: They have lived an active life, surrounded by humans the whole time. Now imagine what it would be like to be alone for eight hours each day, perhaps with some health issues to drag you down and to dwell upon. Compare that to living in an Adult Family Home where everyone is around your own age. You can chat in the common room, or even sit there with the others while watching TV. It can make all the difference, and will lift a person’s spirits. And if you want to be alone, well that’s fine, too. You can simply retire to your room and relax there in peace.

Even in my own middle years, my patience for the intensity of having very young people around me – by ‘young’ I mean babies and toddlers – even if they are my own flesh and blood, has diminished. Or at least, a couple hours a day is quite enough. For many elderly living in the home of their adult children, the day is a long one until the kids show up. Then it’s chaos, as children jaded from a day’s schooling need to vent. And their own children (parents themselves now) are often too busy to keep a solid eye open for possible physical or emotional problems suffered by their aging parents, even when they are living with them.

Medical care, exercise and outings

We all need exercise. For most of us, we will always be able to walk at least for a few minutes a day, for almost every day of our lives. Regular exercise does get tougher when we age, but even a few minutes a day helps. In an Adult Family Home, for instance, it’s easier to keep a basic exercise regimen going because there are five other residents there beside you who need the same thing. Even if it’s a little bit of Tai Chi in the living room, it can make all the difference. For the more energetic, a trip to the mall in the ‘outings van’ can be very enjoyable. Again, transportation and destinations are senior-centric and allow each resident to get just what they need.

It’s often the very last place a person wants to travel to when they get sick, and a hospital visit also comes with its own risks. We’ve all watched how people visit a hospital only to return in a few days with a bug they picked up there. What if a doctor or a nurse practitioner were able to visit the senior where they lived? That’s a service most Adult Family Homes offer and it can mean getting a diagnosis and the prescribed medications needed within an hour or two. And without risking making another hundred people at the hospital sick, too.

See you next week!