The Big Talk. Moving Mom to Assisted Living. I need advice.
June 18, 2014 3:31 PM   Subscribe

Follow-up to Moving your parent to a Senior Living Home.

1. The Big Talk. My friend X will be talking w/ her Mom, and signing papers to move her to a Home. She is now comfortable w/ the decision, and relieved to be finished with exploring and exhausting all options, stop supporting a 2nd house, medical interventions, etc., get some of her life back. Note/Follow-up to previous suggestions- X met the staff 3 times; Mom has visited 3 times, and they did an assessment; there is a memory support; we sat in common areas without coats on; discussed care options; it is in her home community, and she has friends; I read the Pro Publica article. Mom is angry, (aging is a bad deal in this country) knows the family wants to move her, sometimes agrees, sometimes disagrees. Logically, there are a lot of conflicting and anxious thoughts in both their heads. How does my friend approach this? (I am her support) We are going to run through the talk, and consider Mom's reactions; anger, agreement, denial.

2. The Move. How is this done? The Home has a service for this, but I'd like to hear ideas. We have seen the room options, have floor plans. Last week, i was sitting in the house with Mom and she mentioned how she loved a painting on the wall. I mentally added that to my list for her new room. Isn't it important to identify her favorite items, furniture, books, clothes, a side table or rug, paint? Not to RECREATE her house, but keep her connections, anchors, familiar things, soften the abrupt change in her life, so she is nominally in charge of her own space, her things? It would matter to me.
X is wary of my lists and 'spread-sheet' attitude. Fair enough. I am maybe too logistic? But I want her prepared. Perhaps I need to see this as a start, the basics, make it comfortable for Mom to move in, and then as a process over time, as we visit, noting items and listening to make the rooms suit her preferences? Was there anything you might do differently now? Or, as it might happen to you someday?
posted by ebesan to Human Relations (3 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
1. Once she has agreed, sign the papers. Your friend will have to just commit to that, even if she changes her mind. She might have to do some chicanery or even lie about what's going on. Better would be to say, "Mom, you agreed and we've signed all the papers and paid them a deposit and the movers are coming on Friday." And just keep saying it; if Mom agreed once, reminding her of that might help.

2. I used a service called Caring Transitions, which was awesome. They moved my folks' clothes and photos and furniture, arranged everything in the ALF apartment, put the clothes in the closet/bureaus, and hung the photos & art on the walls. It looked great. And then later they sold off the excess stuff and staged the folks' old condo for sale. It's a national franchise chain, you should be able to find them in your area.

We still had to decide what was going and staying, but it was SO MUCH EASIER to have these people do the actual moving and setting up the apartment, and they did it really nicely.
posted by suelac at 4:26 PM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

1. Mom will probably be angry, may even say that she'll refuse to go, and may stay angry for a while. That's crummy, but she still has to move. It's not negotiable. Prepare your friend for the worst emotional fallout, and hope for the best. Sometimes having a doctor/some other authority figure talk to the senior helps; it feels less like the adult child is bossing the parent around and more like someone has made a professional decision. Also, some places prefer family not visit at first, until the resident is adjusted. Either way, see how Mom reacts--if seeing your friend makes her more upset, DON'T GO for a while. If seeing her makes her happier, even momentarily, visit as much as possible!

2.Yes, it's so important that the apartment be homey! Bring her favourite things, and pay special attention to whatever is in her bedroom or living room, whatever she's used to having around her most of her day. It's usually best to do all the moving while Mom is otherwise occupied; take her out to lunch or something both while moving out of the house and while moving into the new apartment. It's very jarring and stressful to watch your home being taken apart, and much more pleasant to simply come into a beautiful apartment that is ready to go! Think of when you arrive in a really well-appointed hotel room.

The "spread sheet" mentality is useful here as you can't predict mom's behavior, but you can use good judgment and list-making to give her the most comfortable transition possible.

All this goes at least double if Mom has cognitive issues, which I'm guessing she does from your mention of memory support.
posted by assenav at 11:59 PM on June 18, 2014

We had a little different situation with my grandmother - she was already in a rehab facility after a hospital stay, and she was moved from there to the assisted living place. She was also very out of it/having pretty bad memory issues. (As a matter of fact, she didn't remember her old house.)

My dad and uncle moved all her furniture and everything over there (and we purchased a couple of new items due to the smaller space), and then they moved her over. She hasn't shown much interest in any of her decorations coming over, and we haven't moved much over (she's been there for 1.5 years), but we also still have everything in her house.

For us, we identified additional things that she needed and brought them over afterwards - a clock with the day and date on it, in addition to the time, so she can see what day it is if she forgets; additional tray tables to have around her recliner, a bag for her walker, a humidifier, etc.

One thing that she did say recently, when someone else moved onto her floor, was that the new resident's family moved her in, and just left her there to figure it out on her own. We were there every day for the first week or so (we live pretty close, so we could fit it in around work) and made sure that she felt comfortable there, and knew the schedule, etc, before we tapered off.

I completely agree with assenav about the spreadsheet mentality - I am the same way, and I think it's useful to have a planner in the family!

Depending on the type of place she's in, it might also be nice to have some of her usual snacks, a coffeemaker (we got a Keurig for my grandmother, and she's been able to figure out how to use it, but she really loves her coffee), and some ziploc bags/tupperware. Sometimes she goes to dinner and doesn't want to eat it all, but wants to bring it back to her room, so it's nice for her to have something to put it in. We also got her as assortment of things to drink in her fridge. (She lives in more of an apartment style, with a small kitchen with sink, fridge, microwave, even though they provide all 3 meals). Oh - and we make sure to supply her with nice toilet paper, too, instead of what they give her.

We also moved her paper and got her a couple magazine subscriptions - but she always sat each morning and read through the paper when she was at her house, so we felt like that was important.
posted by needlegrrl at 4:43 AM on June 19, 2014

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