Whew!  Moving is pure exhaustion.  I recently moved, so my fatigue is still fresh and my stress levels are just starting to subside.  I think the toughest part is getting your groove back- finding your ‘new normal’ while regaining an organized and sane life.  Moving certainly takes a toll on us all.  But perhaps it’s toughest on those that have been in the same place for decades, and adamantly resist the very thought of ‘downsizing’.  As we get older the inevitable happens- we start to lose some control.  It may come from the outside, like well-meaning children or it may simply come from an ailing body that makes up its own mind.  The challenge is what to do about it?

I’ll make the assumption that if you’re reading this post you likely have a parent (or two) whose physical health is heading down the ‘hill’.  It may seem easy for you to tell that the best thing for your parent would be to move- perhaps in to a retirement home, an assisted living facility, or even in with you.  It may not be so easy however for your elderly parent to come to that same conclusion.  If the choice is not clear, start by adding some extra in-home supports, such as help with meals (Meals on Wheels; Dartmouth Seniors), groceries (Grocery Delivery), chores (Metro Chores), cleaning & transportation (Access A Bus), falls prevention (PhysioCare at Home).  These are all great services that help people maintain their independence at home.

There may come a point however, when that extra help just doesn’t cut it, or perhaps it was refused altogether.  Change is tough!  But questions may be the right place to start- so consider asking your parent some tough questions that may lead them to the answer that’s best for them.  The following 8 questions may be a good start to help you recognize a need for change & guide the decision making process for your loved one’s living situation:

  1. Is your elderly parent increasingly forgetful? Especially regarding important health related needs, like taking medication or keeping appointments?
  2. Is the fridge empty?  Is your loved one skipping meals due to their inability to prepare basic & nutritious meals?
  3. Is the house becoming less tidy & organized?
  4. Does he/she seem especially lonely, not engaged in any social activities? Are they alone for significant periods of time?
  5. Does your parent seem confused more often, limiting their safety & independence?
  6. Are signs of pain & weakness significantly limiting his/her movement causing difficulty getting dressed or using the bathroom?  Have they fallen more than once?
  7. Is your loved one’s overall health worsening?
  8. Does your parent require more help than you or other loved ones are able to provide?

Regardless of one’s age and ability, moving is never easy.  If the subject continues to be tough to navigate, don’t give up.  Encourage your elderly parent to at least consider taking a tour of an assisted living facility or two.  And perhaps  a Falls Screening Assessment may help guide the decision making process.  PhysioCare at Home’s Physiotherapists can provide concrete measurements of someone’s balance & mobility through specific testing and compare their scores to a typical/’normal’ score.  This may help jump-start the conversation with a loved one who is resistant to see their need for change.

Like every individual, we thrive on choice.  We’ll all be there one day.  As a loving family member or caregiver, we must offer support and advocacy for those we care for most.  And pray they make the best decision!