Moving is stressful for everyone, but it's really stressful for those who are thinking about moving to a long-term care facility. I helped my mother and father-in-law make this transition and the process was as hard on me as it was on them.
Would your loved one benefit from long-term care? Are you thinking of making this transition yourself? Instead of avoiding the idea, you may face it head-on. Or as novelist John Steinbeck wrote, "It is in the nature of man as he grows older... to protect against change, particularly change for the better." Even of the pros outweigh the cons, however,you may still feel vulnerable.
According to the National Care Planning Council, this approach provides a "homelike environment for people needing or anticipating help with activities of daily living or incidental activities of daily living... This quote comes from a website article, "About Assisted Living."
After you've decided to move you may change your mind. That happened to my mother. I found a beautiful apartment for her and she was excited about moving. Then she called one day and announced, "I'm not coming." I talked with her for 45 minutes, described the apartment and the advantages of Assisted Living. Thankfully, she agreed to move from Florida to Minnesota.
These steps will make it easier for all concerned. If nothing else, they will help to relieve stress because they are proactive.
1. Be careful about self-talk. In his book, Feeling Good, David D. Burns, MD describes the power of negative thinking. "The negative thoughts that flood your mind are the actual cause of your self-defeating emotions," he explains. That's bad enough, but it's easy to slip into what he calls "All-or-Nothing-Thinking," which may lead to unrealistic expectations. When you talk to yourself, emphasize the positives.
2. Do your homework. Find out who owns and operates the facility? What is its reputation? Does it meet health/safety standards? Could you afford to live there? What are the extra charges? Gather as much information as possible and keep it in a separate file.
3. Visit several times. One visit can give you a false impression, so try to visit several times. Get to know the place and the people. My mother visited the high-rise, toured the facility, and several apartments. These visits gave her an idea of what to expect. She was very pleased when she received a welcome bouquet on moving day.
4. Talk with residents. When you visit, talk with as many residents as possible. What do they like best? Is the food good? One of my friends, for example, loves the food service program. "I'm thrilled that I don't have to cook anymore!" she explained. She went on to say that the food didn't taste like the food she used to fix, but "it's good."
5. Start a journal. Expressing your thoughts with written words is one of the best action steps of all. Kathleen Adams, MA, author of Journal to the Self, describes her journal as a 79-cent therapist, available 24 hours a day. "I can tell this therapist absolutely anything," she declares. Writing will clarify your feelings, and nudge you in the direction you need to go.
6. Find out about activities. It's important to stay involved. Judith Viorst writes about involvement in Necessary Losses. "It is easier to grow old if we are neither bored or boring, if we have people and projects we care about, if we are open and flexible and mature enough to submit -- when we need to submit -- to immutable losses."
Moving to Assisted Living may not be easy, but in the long run, it may be the best decision. There's more living to do!
Copyright 2012 by Harriet Hodgson