Does your elderly parent have dementia? Here are five questions to ponder if you’re considering having mom or dad move in with the family.
As a youngster growing up in a military family, moving was commonplace in fact, we moved six times before I was 12 years old.
It’s not so familiar for my family, however. As we prepare to move our family from New Jersey to California including my JetSetGarmentBags.com business I’m faced with multiple questions.
One big one that I’m facing is whether to move my father along with our family. He suffers from dementia, and I am currently his primary caregiver. Yet I am no expert in this disease. I’m simply a loving daughter trying to do what’s best for her dad.
On one hand, I hate to leave my father. On the other, I’m concerned that he will be confused by and hostile toward the move.
My dad’s behavior can be unpredictable. Just last week, for example, he spent a week with my family, and he lashed out at my daughters for doing what kids do: run, jump and make noise. That’s why I’m carefully weighing my options on whether to move him to California.
If you’re considering a similar move with a parent suffering from dementia or another brain disease, ask yourself the following questions. I’m pondering them myself and hoping the answers will help me arrive at the right solution:
1. What kind of stress relievers will you have in place if your parent moves in with the family?
The impact on a family can be tremendous when a dementia patient moves in, especially when kids are involved. Children aren’t typically equipped for dealing with stress in the same way adults are that is, they might not volunteer their feelings.
Discuss your fears and concerns openly with your family. Be supportive of one another’s concerns. Offer your children stress release tips such as exercising regularly, spending time playing with friends and taking up new hobbies.
2. How will you discuss the move with your parent?
Don’t just uproot your mom or dad without discussing it first. Explain that you love your parent and don’t want to leave him or her alone.
Approach the discussion cheerfully; reassuring your parent that living with your family will be fun and rewarding. Remain calm and supportive even if your parent grows upset by this discussion.
3.Â Â Â How will you time the move?
It’s important to move your parent when he or she is alert and calm. Morning is often best. Above all, be sure your parent is in good health when you move. Illness can cause additional stress on both your parent and your family.
4. How will you help your parent adjust to the new surroundings?
Take pictures of your parent’s current environment so you can recreate it as much as possible in the new home. Stick to your parent’s current habits for waking time, TV preferences, food likes and dislikes, activities and interests, familiar businesses and other comforts of home.
Notes Zina Paris of the Alzheimer’s Association, The change of the environment being the most critical issue, it is best to provide as many familiar things in their new environment as the old.
5.Â Â Â What outside resources will you seek?
In some cases, it makes sense to seek housing for your parent outside your home if the stress on your family proves to be too great. If you find your parent snapping at the kids and unable to cope with the new living environment, seek out housing at a relative’s home or a respected assisted living facility.
The Alzheimer’s Association’s Paris recommends reaching out for help right away upon moving: The Association has many, many resources to assist families. Get enrolled with the office in the area of your new move as soon as possible.
With the right stress relievers and careful attention to your elderly parent’s needs, the entire family can survive a big move without incident. Just take things one step at a time, and remember to make time just for yourself. Before long, you and your family will be happily settled in to your new surroundings.
photo credit: Sailing “Footprints: Real to Reel” (Ronn ashore) via photopin cc