Moving My Parents

Biggest Challenge: My father-in-law is in very poor health. He and my mother-in-law live at home. She is the caregiver for him but her mental health is starting to suffer and she is becoming very forgetful. We are doing everything we can to get them into a safer living environment, preferably assisted living. They are being very resistant to selling their house and taking the necessary steps to get into assisted living. We have checked out facilities, contacted realtors, done everything we can to help them take the first steps towards moving into a safer living environment. We are fearful that a crisis is going to force them to act and we would hope to prevent a crisis. We would like to get them settled into assisted living, they say they know they need to move, but there is no evidence on their part that they are moving towards making a change. We realize that they are physically and mentally not able to take the necessary steps to make the change, we have asked them to let us help them but any steps we take in that direction are met with resistance. If one of them winds up in the hospital the other one cannot stay home alone. They are just barely making it together but neither one of them could function alone at home, even for 24 hours. How do we get them to see this? When do children step in and say a change has to happen and give the parents a time frame it needs to happen in?

--Debbie

Response from DM:

Dear Debbie,

Thank you for your detailed submission. When we see that our family members need assistance, direction, or guidance, we want to jump right in and come to their aid. This is a natural reaction. When they don’t respond to our offers or suggestions, we are sometimes taken aback or even hurt or offended. One of the most difficult things to handle in these situations is keeping our own emotions in check and staying practical and focused. When we are discussing anything with an older person, or in your case, two seniors, it is best to keep everything as simple as possible. Write out the options you are discussing in large print. Too much information, especially if it is coming to them all at once, can be overwhelming to fully comprehend and absorb. In addition, with what you have indicated, their physical, emotional, and thinking processes are changing.

If you have stated your information and concerns clearly and in a logical way, and you are not getting the response you think is appropriate for their own safety, it may be time to bring in a trusted friend, or even professional help such as a social worker, geriatric care manager, financial planner, or elder care lawyer. It is sometimes difficult for a frail older person who is now dealing with their own declining health issues to stay focused on other matters, even when they know a decision is being made for their own good. To move out of your home and community, and to think about all that it entails, can be overwhelming for anyone. Try to understand their needs from their perspective. As long as they have the mental capacity to make a decision, their thoughts and feelings must always be taken into consideration. This takes enormous patience on your part. Just keep reinforcing that you care about them and want them to be safe and in the best possible environment, so that they can live out their years together in comfort, surrounded by family and friends. I know this is not easy for you, but you are on the right path, and you will find a solution that you all can be comfortable with. 

Most sincerely,

Dr. Marion

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