When you are still a child, you rarely have something to worry about: for many kids, the most important issue is how to do their homework assignment as soon as possible to finally have time to complete that super-difficult level in a computer game or chat with friends. When we are young, our relatives are young too: your father and mother look at you with their eyes bright and hair shiny, with few or no wrinkles to notice, and it seems that it is going to last forever.
However, it is not. All people get older, and there is nothing we can do about it. Being a senior is associated with not only wisdom and lots of memories to share; old age brings a lot of problems: from health issues to having to handle expensive insurance, the elderly face challenges which are almost impossible to overcome alone. Yet many of them still strive to.
Ring the changes?
They go shopping and forget groceries in the store. They fail to find their way home after going out of their friends’ house. They keep on forgetting what they have been doing recently. There are many ways for dementia to manifest itself, and memory is the thing which suffers first. As the disease progresses, a senior person suffering from it gets more and more dependent on relatives. Even if it’s not dementia, there are plenty of diseases, conditions and disorders that are capable of making a person physically and mentally disabled. It is at this point that the relatives of such a person have to make a decision and either find a special long-term care facility for their mom, dad, aunt, uncle or other dear one to move into, or to take the one in need for help to their own house.
Switching to assisted living is very difficult for a single senior, especially if he or she has been living alone for a long time. They got used to the feeling that they are independent and do not need anyone to look after them. The moral aspect of moving is the key reason why many seniors refuse to get help: if they accept it, it will mean they are no longer able to make decisions themselves. It’s like abdicating: when you surrender, it means all you have to do is to wait until you die, and your time is over. Sounds depressive, doesn’t it? Nevertheless, if the challenge of a ‘take-to-my-place-or-leave-unattended’ dilemma strikes you, it is up to you to make every effort to persuade your senior relative to agree to move to assisted living—either for the sake of themselves, or to make you feel sure that they are in a safe place.
Some Tips on How to Help a Single Relative Move into Assisted Living
Is Hiring a Caregiver a Good Option?
Before we proceed to ways to help the one who needs help but is not of the same opinion, it is reasonable to consider half-measures which may be of use and still let your relative live alone for some more time.
The first option is to hire an in-home caregiver. However, it has a number of downsides. First, delegating taking care of your parent to someone else can hurt your mom or dad’s feelings. Why doesn’t my daughter want to do it herself? Is it easier for her to pay than to handle the issue? Have I turned into a burden to her? All these thoughts will swarm your parent’s head, especially if he of she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. At a certain stage of the disease progressing, the patient becomes more aggressive and mistrustful. That is why almost everything may seem irritating to such a senior. Let’s be honest—the chances your parent will like sharing the house with a stranger (though a well-paid one) are low.
Besides, it can be a challenge to find a caregiver you will trust. Are you sure the shy girl you have just interviewed is a nice candidate?
The third, and sometimes decisive, reason not to use services of a caregiver is that it may really cost a fortune. A person who needs assistance cannot work and earn money any more, so it is you who will manage financial issues, and all expenses will be yours to pay. Food, bills, drugs, treatment—in most cases, there is no room for special personnel in your budget.
Smart Technologies to Monitor Your Relative
If you cannot afford an in-home caregiver or do not want to have someone you scarcely know looking after your parent, it may be more convenient to buy a set of special devices for emergency detection. The market is full of medical alert systems which are designed to help you monitor the situation in your single relative’s house while you are away. From simple ‘S.O.S.’ buttons to sophisticated robotic systems, these technologies are here to lend you a hand without inconveniencing the relative too much.
Does your parent suffer from Parkinson’s disease? All cases of falls will be detected, and a signal will be sent to the monitoring team. Some of the most advanced systems track body position and determine whether there is something wrong with the person in front of the camera: manufacturers of such systems claim that heart attacks and strokes can also be recognized by the AI.
This approach can be a good way to prolong the period your relative remains independent. However, if the disease prevents the person from doing simple things, like going shopping or cooking, the need for assistance becomes obvious. From this point on, half-measures will be of little or no use.
If you want to persuade your parent to move, it will be better if you team up with other relatives. It is important for other family members to be of the same opinion, because if one of them tries to convince your relative who needs help that there is no reason to leave their home, it will be much more difficult to take the parent to a special facility or your house. Should some family member be against it, try to settle down the issue by negotiation: ask him or her why (s)he doesn’t want the parent to move.
It’s worthy of note that the aim is not to use moral coercion, but to make the person feel the whole family is going to support him/her.
Look for allies
If there are no family members to help or they do not want to, it’s time to look for allies in other places, including the parent’s telephone directory and clergy. Is there a person your parent trusts and in whom he or she can confide in? Don’t hesitate to call this friend and ask for help: having someone like this on your side will definitely be an advantage.
Clergy members can also be of much help. If your parent is a Christian, ask a clergy member to have a conversation with him/her: letting the one who needs help know that there is nothing bad about being taken care of and helping to overcome the moral issues associated with it can be a step forward.
Let Them See the Difference
Do you remember the times when long-term care facilities looked like asylums? It may be the case that your parent refuses to move into a special facility because they believe it is a gloomy place of which there is no way out. Dreary nursing homes became history. If you cannot take your relative to your place and want to find a good facility, try touring one of the candidates with the parent: it will enable him/her to see what it is like living there. Most modern long-term care facilities are equipped with everything to make the lives of their residents happier. A wide range of activities, lots of trees and fresh air, and nice people willing to help are what can persuade a person that the option is not the worst one.
Use Weak Points
However cruel it may seem to be, you can use the problem area your parent struggles to succeed in to persuade them to stop living alone. Some get lost often, while others fail to pay taxes. If you highlight the issue and explain why it is important to help, the relative will be more likely to understand.
If it’s driving that is becoming dangerous, don’t hide the parent’s keys or the car itself – there is always room for a conversation. If it fails, you can try reporting the issue to the local motor vehicle department. Should they find the information you sent them worth considering, they will ask your parent to undergo a road test. The key point here is to make the authorities “to blame”—with no consequences for relationship. However, one should be aware that this approach should be used only if the relative suffers from some advanced disease which prevents him/her from driving appropriately. Otherwise, it will be both illegal and unethical!
They Do it for You
If all other reasons fall victim to your parent’s stubbornness, their love can help. It’s difficult to find a person who decided to use a med alert system or move to a long-term care facility only because they wanted it: most seniors agree to do it only for the sake of their children, who will be less anxious when they know there is someone to take care of their parents.
In some cases, even asking to do it for you can result in a failure. If it happens, the only way to make a relative with significantly diminished capacities move into a long-term care facility or your place is to go to court. Seeking guardianship for an elderly parent is something to be used only when all other approaches have been tried and failed. Consult a qualified attorney to make sure you have all the needed documents and find out what rights you and your parent have.
Whatever happens, don’t forget that it’s your relative, and no condition can be an excuse to neglect them.
Illness Does Not Mean Inferiority
The key thing to remember is that the fact your parent suffers from a disease does not mean he/she has no rights and does not deserve being loved.
Some people steal their parent’s car when they want to prevent him or her from driving, but they forget that such an approach can harm their feelings: the elderly don’t want to be neglected or considered to be right- and useless. Dementia is a terrible thing to experience, and aggravating the situation by using force to change the parent’s life is not a good way to overcome the challenge.
Whenever possible, try to convince your senior relative that it is a good solution worth considering: living with a family is not a bad idea, after all. Even those who are used to living alone can become part of such a mini-society: it may take time for them to accommodate, and it is up to you to help them.
P.S. Taking care of an elderly relative is challenging not only to the relative, but also to the caregiver. The immense stress associated with it is something to consider before you persuade your parent or relative to move to your place. Communicating with a person with dementia is very difficult, and the more the disease progresses, the harder it gets. In such moments, you can consult the people you asked to have a conversation with your loved one: clergy members can be of great help. Your family can provide invaluable support.
You may ask us, why the depressive topic.
Advanced technologies, TV shows, celebrity gossips, social networks – there are so many things which can make us forget that life is not about entertainment only and earning money. We forgot how to look around, to look at the world with our eyes wide open. When our parents join the community of the elderly, we must be aware of it. When a disease strikes, we must be there to help. To feel it.
One day we will become old. We will realize our most active years are over, and it’s time to think about what has been done and what is left to do. To make this period not a decade of despair, but a time for thinking and living the way an elderly person should – looking forward – you can alleviate the situation by handling health issues and other things which are best managed by the young and mature. Let them experience age as it was supposed to be – thoughtful, bright and hopeful.