Parents moving into Assisted Living and I would love some encouragement, live 1400 miles away and worried about them.

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Mom has beginning stages of dementia, step Dad is physically declining but his mind is sharp. I tried to get them to move to my town years ago, even purchasing a house up the street, but for various reasons won't move. My Mom would in a heart beat, but part of that is the dementia making the decision. I have been here over a week sorting & packing, the big move is tomorrow, into a nice facility in their hometown, but we are all stressed, and both of them are depressed. By the time I head home, I will have been here two weeks, and I feel very guilty about leaving during this transition time for them. My Mom will have a hard time, she's in denial about how much help she needs and my step Dad, chose this move trying to do the smart thing, is still depressed and on top of that, is still has to manage my Mom. I am concerned, worried, and of course have a full busy life full of responsibilities 1400 miles, hubby, small business, step kids, and grandchildren that I help care for. Any advice or encouragement would be greatly appreciated.


Well, you're one BIG step ahead of me getting them into assited living. Count your blessings. I'm 600 miles from my folks, same situation but it's dad with dementia and mom with health problems. Like you I make the trip, work my butt off for a few days then come homevandvhandle things from afar. I could get mom in AL but dad with his dementia is impossible, so they are still at home stumbling around insisting everthing is just fine. It's great that your folks are willingly going to AL. I'm so envious! It will take some event or crisis for me and then I'll have to force the issue at that point. It will be a tough transition for them but usually folks settle in, socialize and thrive in AL. Or so I've heard.......
Your step Dad made a very difficult choice and I applaud him for being proactive. It's understandable that they are depressed - it's a big change - and accepting ones limitations is difficult. They are going to have lots of interaction with people their own age. They will have the help they need and want. Stress will go down and that is a very good thing. Remember your first day at school? Your parents may have taken you to the door but you had to walk in there all by yourself. Thank goodness your step Dad is still sharp so don't baby him. Let him get them settled in. We give my FIL little projects all the time to make him feel good about himself. About your guilt...I hope it changes to relief when you hear they're doing well. Good luck!
It is a relief to get them into AL, but there will still be issues I suspect. I would just try to do the best you can from where you are. Let the guilt go.

Do you have Durable Power of Attorney and Healthcare POA? I'd make sure you have that or someone in their state has it so they can act on their behalf if necessary.

I know that when my loved one went into AL, there were all kinds of paperwork to sign. If they become incompetent, the various medical facilities may need your signature.

Did your parents have an assessment by the AL facility to determine how they could meet their needs? I just hope that the services will meet their needs as they progress. If not, I'm sure they will let you know.

I would consider long range plans in case that happens. I would also encourage you to keep close watch on dad's health. It is extremely stressful to live with a person with dementia. As she progresses, it may cause him a lot of distress. That can't be good for his physical health. Eventually, she may need much more care and supervision that your dad can't provide.
This kind of transition is always difficult, especially since you're far away and unable to be there frequently to assist in acclimation to their new living arrangements.

Assuming there are no other relatives nearby, I would contact their neighbors or any church members and ask if they can arrange to visit on a regular basis, and keep you updated as to any worsening of your parents' depression. I would also meet with the facility administration and ask the same thing. At least that way you'll have two different independent sources providing feedback.

I would also meet with the activities staff and ask if they'll make a special effort to get your parents involved in activities, and introduce them to other residents.

Call your parents regularly, and ask other family members to do the same. The goal is to make the transition and integration as smooth as possible, but also to be alert for worsening of their depression or other issues that may develop.

If it does appear that the situation isn't working out, and if you still have that house you bought, you can again raise the issue of their moving closer to you. If they did, you could at least have more up to date and intimate knowledge of their progress, and intervene if necessary to provide home care and assistance through vetted agencies. I do agree that eventually Mom's dementia may require a more supportive environment, but it's also possible that in AL the staff may be able to provide some aspect of that support.

Can you spend some time with them after they move in to also help in the transition process? Perhaps help them get acquainted, plan something special like a dinner out?

I also think Sunny's last 2 paragraphs on proactive planning are important to consider. Another thing for which to be thankful is that they're not remaining alone at home as Windy's parents are. There's so much uncertainty and anxiety in a situation like that. And NYDIL's suggestion on projects to help refocusing from the drastic change is good advice as well.
JJGood, how lucky you are that your parents have decided on their own to move into Assisted Living. And the fact they are still in their hometown means a lot. They might even meet some friends from the past who are living in that Assisted Living or meet new friends with common interest.

Your folks will find there are things to do at the Assisted Living, compared to sitting at home worrying about who will shovel the snow, or rake the leaves, and who would get their groceries or drive them to doctor appointments. Eventually there will be less stress for them once they settle in :)

And over time less stress for you, knowing they aren't home alone. You find yourself being able to finally sleep at night.
Thanks everyone for your support and helpful ideas. Today has been tough for me, trying to get everything ready for the movers tomorrow.

My parents hired a team of professionals who assist with this exact type of move, but kept putting off the sorting and packing until I got here. Now of course, I have spent the entire first week sorting and packing, and today my step Dad wants to know if I will stay longer to help with paperwork!!! My last day here is Friday, Mon and Tues will be mostly taken up with moving and unpacking, and I imagine we will all be wiped out the rest of the week.

My step Dad is very bright and has a sharp mind, but I wonder what version of reality he is living in at the moment....he kept procrastinating about the packing, despite my efforts and the professional estate manager. It got to the point that she was emailing me to see if I could get him to move along with packing because he kept cancelling and postponing. AND now the consequences of him putting that off has led us to not having more time to tackle anything else but the move. (although to be honest, I'm kind of surprised he thought we would have time for anything else)

I did offer to come back for a long weekend, 5 days in February to do paperwork, but I simply do not have it in me to stay any longer than I originally planned this trip, not to mention I still have a full month ahead of me with my own obligations to fulfill. AND OF COURSE, I feel guilty.


Thanks again folks for your words of wisdom, and for listening to me vent a bit.
Forgot to mention, he does have a local admin helper who has assisted him with paperwork previously, and I asked about his reluctance to get her help again, and he insists that it's fine, it's just hard to line up appointment time/scheduling. BUT at least he has someone here he trusts to help him with that.
JJ, you are doing the best that you can and then some. You have given your folks a generous amount of "help time" for this transition. (And lemme guess, you had to play a shell game with time off from work.....disappoint other loved ones with the timing of this trip.....put a dent in your own goals/wallet/well-being to make this happen.....possibly all of the above.....and your parents make no acknowledgement of this!) As for your step-dad refusing to engage with the help that he has, that's so common among his age group. Painfully common. He has all day every day -- and all the resources -- to make things happen, yet he won't. SO frustrating. This is probably cold comfort, but everyone on this forum can relate. Everyone. Hang in there and hang onto your sanity. Your parents' age group reacts to change poorly -- including changes that they initiate. Put on your zen armor and make "good enough" your new mantra. Whenever possible, spin your words to give step-dad the sense that he is in control. And be kind to yourself; this is HARD. We're rooting for you. :-)
I'm not sure what kind of paperwork that is being put on hold, but if it's something like Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare POA, etc., I'd put that on the front burner. Clothes and books can be replaced, but documents that allow the family to conduct business and obtain medical information about their ailing parents is vital. I would not put that off. In the the invent of a crisis, you would be a terrible predicament if you had no authority to act on their behalf.

Thank you Blackhole & Sunnygirl, appreciate your feedback and support...last night was their first night in the new apartment is ASL. I went to the hotel with my family and slept really poorly worried about my parents half the night. Turns out everything was fine. Today we brought over a last load, hung up pictures and decorative items, continued to unpack and organize. I also encouraged them to eat dinner at the main dining room, told them I was really curious to try the food, and that was fun going down there and figuring out the ropes etc. it was probably a little intimidating to them, but I just asked questions and sort of paved the way a little bit. Today I am much more encouraged, plus my stepdad seems pretty happy with the idea of me coming back for a trip at the end of Jan/February to address the paperwork. I suggested that we line up the local admin person while I am visiting so that the three of us could tackle all the projects together. I also reassured him that this week I planned to go through the file boxes and make sure he had all the files handy that he needs and organize the rest.

I think we are all feeling better!

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