Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 2, 2005
Choose a long term care facility with care
Moving a parent into care can be traumatic for the whole family
By RICK LAUBER
Special to the WCR
Moving day can be stressful enough, but what if you're moving your mother or father into long-term care? In addition to the many moving boxes one has to heft and carry, one has to deal with much emotional baggage, which can also come at this time - feelings of guilt, resentment, anger and sadness, for example. Such emotions are to be expected.
Should Mom or Dad be still lucid, you'll likely encounter some resistance. And who's to argue? Admission into long-term care brings negative connotations. However, not all facilities are the same. By following a few recommendations, the move will be more pleasant for all.
You can begin by rationally discussing the reasons for changing addresses prior to moving day. Explain that a long-term care facility will be safer than home and better care will be available. Sons and daughters may or may not have the background training and/or experience to properly provide.
If necessary, obtain a doctor's diagnosis. Often, older people respect the opinion of medical professionals (incidentally, this approach also works quite well with decreasing or stopping driving).
Start discussing the upcoming move a few months, at least, before you're ready to make the change. Mom or Dad will have more time to adjust, will not be overwhelmed with an overnight decision and will, likely, be more accepting of the whole idea. With a few months advance notice, you can also slowly begin helping to pack and/or dispose of parental belongings, without being rushed.
Share thoughts and feelings about the upcoming move. This works well if your family is close; your parents may appreciate hearing that such a change is equally as difficult for son or daughter as it is for them.
Tour long-term care facilities. Seniors' care is available at many levels and each facility is unique. Edmonton's Millennium Pavilion, for example, caters to seniors who remain fairly independent, while St. Michael's Long Term Care Centre accepts dementia residents, who require more attention.
Yet another option is supportive housing, where residents move from home only once; further services are available on-site to allow for gracious aging-in-place. Note that tours of such places are often held at specific times - maybe, only once or twice a week or by appointment.
The reason for this is not to be difficult, but instead to not disrupt any current residents. Just imagine how you might feel with having people constantly trooping through your home, peering in closets and invading your privacy. Also, imagine how difficult it can be to try and calm down those residents who become agitated with the increased traffic.
When you go to each facility, be prepared to spend the time necessary to look around, ask questions and take copious notes of medical care available, degree of safety, cleanliness, staff attitude, amenities, layout and resident activities.
Many families also consider facility location paramount (it must be close enough for visiting and/or trips to church or medical appointments). In addition to location, also weigh the facility's setting: Is this an institutional "nursing" home or a comfortable, inviting and safe home? After all, Mom or Dad may be living there for many years.
Ask for Mom and Dad's involvement, if appropriate. Bring them along on tours, whenever possible. It's often easier and more time efficient to have the entire family tour once, rather than trying to arrange multiple visits.
Contact Central Assessment and Placement Services (CAPS) early. This organization assesses seniors and advises appropriate placements. Mom or Dad's health, social skills and cultural differences (among many other things) will be considered and a recommendation will be made.
As a family member, you can voice your facility preferences and these will be considered. You may list your three top choices of where you would like Mom or Dad to live; these requests will be honoured by CAPS, whenever possible.
Should Mom or Dad not be placed immediately into your preferred facility, don't despair! Names will remain on file with this organization, should something open up elsewhere. Seniors have also been known to come to like where they move, after some time of living there. You can reach CAPS at 496-7500.
Visit and visit often after moving day. Human beings are social animals and feed off of good company. Mom or Dad will enjoy seeing you.
While moving day into long-term care may not be easy, it doesn't have to be a nightmare. A little prior preparation should help immensely.
Try implementing any or all of these tips and see how much smoother the transition will become.
(Rick Lauber is community relations officer St. Michael's Healthcare Services in Edmonton.)
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