Elderly loved ones face a multitude of major lifestyle changes as they make their journey through the golden years. Change can be a good thing, but it can also be an emotional time of letting go. Seniors feel the loss and the stress that come with giving up a home and everything familiar that goes with it. Here’s how caregivers can help elderly loved ones accept new living arrangements.
Making Room in the Family Home for an Elderly Parent
An elderly parent may have to give up belongings, furniture, plants and even a beloved pet when there is simply no room in an adult child’s home. Downsizing material possessions that define a person’s lifestyle and character is no easy task. Storage units are an expense many people cannot afford, and other adult children may live too far away to accept furniture and other large items.
An elderly parent moving into the home of an adult child loses more than the comfort of an old house, sentimental possessions, and decades of memories. The senior has to learn new routines – has to learn new sounds and different smells – and has to get used to a son or daughter being in charge.
Moving into a grown son or daughter’s home may also mean kids, toys, teenagers, and a lot of noise. Getting around in unfamiliar territory is stressful and confusing for many elders.
How Can a Home Caregiver Help an Elderly Family Member Adjust?
Having to depend on someone else is a challenge for any adult, but even more so for the aged person who may be losing the ability to care for himself. It’s a tough fact to accept when old age steps in and someone younger takes charge, making the decisions. Elderly parents don’t always agree with their grownup kids.
An adult son or daughter can observe a few tips to make the transition to the family home easier for an elderly parent and everyone concerned:
- Start suggesting or talking about the move well in advance with the elderly person. Gently voice concerns such as falling, cooking, shopping and so forth.
- Discuss moving plans with the elder’s health care practitioner to get a second opinion and (hopefully) support.
- Make sure the elderly parent wants to move in with the family. It could be that the senior prefers to be with others of the same age in an assisted living arrangement or nursing home.
- When the time comes to move, adhere to the elderly parent’s wishes about what to do with the belongings left behind and the old home.*
- Move treasured possessions and things of comfort into the bedroom with the elderly person. Framed photos, a rocking chair, or special books add a small measure of familiarity to the new location.
- Maintain as much of the elder’s old routine as possible without stressing the caregiver or inconveniencing other family members.
- Include the elderly parent in family activities as much as possible so the elder doesn’t feel isolated.
- The elderly person should have as much control as possible over their own care and decision-making, unless advanced age and/or illness makes such control impossible or dangerous.
- Planning ahead saves a lot of frustration and emotional pain later on. Older parents can set a good example for young adult children – and even teenagers – by discussing their concerns and decisions for “old age” including housing arrangements, medical wishes, and funeral plans.
- Organizing a move for an elderly person is difficult under the best of circumstances. Caregivers who have a plan and who have thought through every detail of the move will suffer a lot less stress when the time comes to bring an elderly parent into the home.
- Caregivers can help the transition for an elderly parent by surrounding him or her with as many memorable items as possible and keeping a routine similar to what the elder had before the move. Once the elder has settled into the home, the family can focus on creating new memories to go with the old ones.