My Father (95 years old) is moving to my house next week and to make a long story short, has been "on board" with this plan for about a year now. After two hospitalizations for sepsis and both involving mental confusion and a big decline in short term memory (some returned but still a concern), he agreed with his physician, that he should no longer be living alone and independently in his home (of 59 years). He has been widowed for 6 years, and until recently openly grieved my mother.
My concern today is that now that he is looking at this move which is only 10 days away, he has begun to express to us that he is not sure he can do it, he is very worried about leaving his home and wonders what he will do all day.
Since Christmas, my sister's and brother's in law and my husband and I have been staying with him as his long term care insurance does not cover much because he is still highly functioning and can dress, bather, fix simple meals etc. independently. He has considered living in a "home" or facility but after touring several made the decision that moving to live with my husband and I (now that our 4 children are grown and no longer living in our home). We live about 45 minutes away from his home town, so we can still bring him to church services, keep his current doctors, etc.
His day to day activities now don't involve much other than his ADL's and reading, or watching TV or just wandering around his house looking at things and occasionally he writes short stories on his computer. We also do a lot of jigsaw puzzels together. (in my mind, he can do almost all of these things in my home, except just he won't be in his familiar environment to browse through things we may not have brought with him)
I have assured him that we will bring his computer, books, movies, TV and anything else he wants to have. He gardens, and I told him that we will be able to start a garden soon as well and I was looking for his help or at least supervision with that.
He expresses deep gratitude for the "sacrifice" my husband and I are making to bring him to our home, but states he will just miss his home so much and that it will really be hard.
At this point, we have transferred all his mail, ADT health alarm services, newspapers, etc. to come to our house, his TV, internet, phone services have been transferred to ours to start next week.
My sisters and in -laws and husband and I agree that we cannot keep taking turns living with him as that has been the sacrifice. I am feeling guilty though because his dream would be to stay in his house until he dies. He is healthy and as that is not imminent (thankfully), we all believe that we need to go ahead with this plan, and hoping that the anticipation of the move is worse than it will be once he gets there. .
We have assured him that if he is miserable, we will look into other options but for now we all want him to "try' this arrangement.
He is having some surgery next week (removal of a skin cancer spot on his ear) and is to come home with me following that procedure. ( I am a nurse and will be helping him with the bandage changes etc. that will be needed afterwards.)
SO! I am looking for reassuring word, or words of advice for what I can do or say to help him with this transition. Thank you.

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Thank you all so much for your comments! All so valuable and so reassuring! Will be sure to share any helpful comments as we move through this transition and I am sure I will be reaching out for more expert advice!
Helpful Answer (2)

I hope it works out. It sounds like you have some good ideas in store. I think you did good to say you'd ask help with the garden. Seniors like to feel needed. I'd add that you need his help with something else too, like, input on old recipes he likes, the best brand of seeds, etc. Just so long as he feels he's needed. I've found that helpful with seniors in general.  Anything else like feeding a goldfish, keeping a dog company while you run errands, etc?  
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CM, excellent advice, from a more "global" perspective. I'm copying your post to use in adapting to my father's care, assuming you don't mind?
Helpful Answer (0)

Two stock phrases spring to mind.

1. As per the AC forum hug: "it is okay not to be okay." Your father is facing a dramatic change, at a very late stage in life, after a (happily short) series of upsetting events. He will be leaving behind a whole lifetime of memories, and can't yet tell that those will be coming with him. Of course his heart must be in his mouth - wouldn't yours be? But if you can get him to focus on how pleased and relieved the family will be to know that he is safe, and the welcome he can look forward to, and the relief for him of having made the bold decision to agree to the move; there should be enough positives to get him over the hump and comfortably moved in.

2. - from my sister, and see what this tells you about *her*: "nothing is ever as bad as you think it's going to be."

Actually, 3, let's chuck in a bit of Shakespeare, might as well - "present fears are less than horrible imaginings." Offer constant reassurance while the move is going on, and keep his attention on everything being fine *right now*: it's all going according to plan, he is warm/near enough the bathroom/not hungry or thirsty or overtired, and that all will be well.

And, yes, have a Plan B. Good luck! Let us know how you get on.
Helpful Answer (2)

Since you're both gardeners, order some catalogues or gardening magazines for him to browse as he acclimates to your house. These are my go-to's when I'm really stressed. If either of you integrate landscaping into your gardening, and can find this magazine at Kroger, The English Garden magazine is an outstanding "dream" magazine. The May issue comes with a bonus - a special insert titled Romance of the Rose.

Even if you're not landscape gardeners, the magazine offers excellent landscaping schemes, and they're realistic and doable for us ordinary folks.

This is better than any anti-anxiety medicine! You can ask him to start planning for his garden, and for yours - it's a positive, mental and often challenging activity. And since he's computer literate, he can create spreadsheets of potential plants, listed by height, bloom or harvest time, sun vs. shade, colors, etc., and plan a whole garden while also challenging himself on the computer.

If I recall correctly, there are also garden software programs that facilitate this kind of designing.

Working puzzles is soothing and calming as well. Supplement them with whatever else he might enjoy - a coffee or tea break, walk around the yard or outside (it sounds as if he doesn't have any mobility problems), discussions of garden plans or books. Create a little library for him so he can arrange his books and meander there, perusing his collection to find an appropriate book for his mood at the time.

I'd plan the move in stages, if necessary, using gardening and puzzle solving activities to either precede or follow each stage, so he has a chance to acclimate periodically. Ask him to help with the planning, the lists, arrangement of furniture, etc. It'll divert his mind from anxiety.

Is it possible to dedicate one room entirely for him, not just for sleeping but like his own office suite? I assume you're also bringing some of his cherished furniture, art work, books, and items that he holds dear?

My father, at almost 99.5 years, also wanted to stay at home for the rest of his life, but drastic medical situations changed that plan. He's now in a well chosen SNF and in the Palliative Care program. The primary factor preventing return to home is his current inability to walk b/c of a combination of factors, primarily dysphagia related emaciation and lack of strength.

He still wants to go home though. The Social Worker is one of the few I've met who is top notch. We approached PC as a way to strengthen up so that he can still return home (although neither of us believe it would be practical or feasible). Still, it gives him something to cling to as he contemplates the drastic and abrupt changes in his health and life.

I'm also considering actually taking him home when end of life is very close, so he can complete his life with that intention. However, I don't expect he'll be able to make that trip, but it still gives him something to cling to.

In the meantime, I'm starting to create "life events" memorabilia to bring to his room at the SNF. They'll include snippets and photos of his childhood, military service, marriage, honeymoon, family and other significant events.

I think your plan is excellent. You've thought of everything, you have family support, and a very positive outlook. I wish you the best, but also ask that you share with us after he's settled in any tips you might have developed through the moving and acclimation process. I can always learn from someone else.
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