Parenting Your Parent: Senior Transitioning Made Easier

Each year at holiday time most of us gather with friends and family. While these are largely  happy times, it can be a real eye-opener for adult children with parents who are getting on in the years.

Spending extended time together, you may notice changes in your parents behavior.  The holiday season plays havoc with all of our behaviors, and changes are not all bad …but how do you rationally and constructively handle this?

Paula Meighan knows. As an RN and LMSW, she worked with seniors as a visiting nurse, in hospice, and then as a geriatic care manager. She then became one of the founding partners of Changing Places LLC, a Stamford CT-based senior transitioning firm.  Members of NASMM and Certified Relocation and Transition Specialists (CRTS)-they specialize in assisting seniors-and their families-first navigate these emotionally charged issues, then providing peace of mind as they facillitate changes on their behalf.

Paula recommends using this opportunity to observe any changes that may be a signal that the time is approaching, or has come, to suggest resources to make life easier for them.  Some solutions  might be an aging in place organization, a geriatric care manager, additional help in the home or beginning to look at alternatives such as a move to independent or assisted living. 

Here are a few things to consider: 

Household –   Can they food shop on their own?  Are they able to pay their bills?  Is the laundry done?  Are dishes clean?  Is there excess garbage or spoiled food in the refrigerator? 

Hygiene– Are they  wearing clean clothes?  Are there any smells on their person?

Health – Can they keep track of their medications and take them properly?  Have they made and kept medical and dental appointments?  Do you see any signs of memory problems?

Socialization – Are they isolated or still getting out and about?

Safety – How is their walking? Bathing?  Dressing?  If driving, take a ride with them and observe their reaction time.  Note if the car has dents and scratches.

Once you and any siblings have gathered information, which may include speaking with neighbors and friends, you might start a conversation about their thoughts for the future.  Do they want to stay where they are?  Would they consider having someone check in with them on a regular basis? Do they think a residential facility would make life easier for them?

These can be difficult conversations and we need to remember it is a process that will take place over time, unless of course you sense an immediate issue that needs resolution.  There are so many options available, just opening the door can be a major step.  Good luck!