How You Can Adapt To Your Loved One's Move To A Senior Living Environment
If you are a caregiver for a loved one who is moving into an senior living facility, then you may be feeling some anxiety and tension about the pending move. Adjustment to new situations is seldom completely easy, but moving is particularly hard. However, you may be surprised to learn that caregivers, such as yourself, often have a harder time than the loved ones. All kinds of feelings and emotions can overwhelm you during this season of life if you aren't prepared. Below is how you can prepare your mind and ease the transition of moving an older loved one into a new care environment:
Remember the objective truth
Perhaps the most difficult aspect for children of senior parents is coming to grips with multiple realities: the reality that more care is needed than can be provided in a current environment, the reality that the normal processes of aging can't be stopped, and other sometimes-painful recognitions.
A healthy response to this is to allow acceptance to come without faking a stoicism or attempting to heroically change the unchangeable. Instead, by acknowledging the truths of growing older and by embracing them as part of living, you can release a lot of the painful thoughts that might haunt you.
Understanding the objectivity of this situation will give you much-needed "permission" to step-back and evaluate circumstances for what they are. Don't permit the subjectivity of emotions to completely control your thinking, especially when it comes to making decisions about finding the best care for a senior loved one.
Enlist the support of others
All-too-often, individuals within a family environment assume the sole responsibility for caring for an older loved one. Even in larger families with multiple siblings, it's not uncommon to hear of the eldest or the child closest in proximity to be "in charge" of care giving and making all the decisions regarding living facilities.
While it can be practical to have someone serve in a lead role, it is never appropriate for one individual to take on the entire emotional burden. Making decisions about a senior loved one's future home requires a collaboration among family members and others who are close-at-hand. Many people believe that American culture comes with certain unwritten rules to wall-off those who are in a good position to help. Don't allow those false beliefs to prevent you from talking candidly with other family members, close friends from church and other places where your loved one has engaged over the years. If they are able or available to only give their thoughts, then you have gained much by releasing some of the pressure regarding your decisions.
Hopefully, you will be able to enlist some of these individuals to provide additional assistance in other, concrete ways. Make a list of specific, measurable tasks that need to be accomplished to help your loved one transition and adjust, and be proactive by sharing those with others. Ask for help, but be sure to give those asked an open, honest opportunity to decline if they are not in a position to do anything. Any initial awkwardness is more than worth the price for avoiding deep resentment and hard feelings whenever a misunderstanding arises down the road.
Allow your loved one to learn and grow
Finally, the most healthy response is to allow your loved one an opportunity to set out on their journey with an attitude of trust and hope. All residential facilities, whether they are independent senior housing or care oriented nursing homes, should be viewed as a place where new friends will be made and new experiences will be forged. Your mindset can make a huge difference for the senior in your life, as it will carry over into how they view their new life. Give to them a freedom to both fail and succeed, and let them know they have your support but you are trusting in their abilities. Your confidence in them will reflect back to you as your senior loved one flourishes.