Mom and Dad are moving out of their home of almost 50 years to a 2 bedroom independent living apartment. I live almost two hours away and am an only child. What kinds of things have you found to help the move and transition go most smoothly? The facility helps pack them and move them and sells their home. When I ask them how they feel about their upcoming move in a little under two weeks they don't sound excited and just say they want it to be done and hope they don't "kill each other" before the move.

Mom is very demanding of Dad, and I don't know he can live with that...although he has for over 50 years. it seems worse now. He is her main caregiver as she is on peritoneal dialysis and has neuropathy and is very weak and has much difficulty walking. When I visit she is very critical of him and I hate to be put in the middle.

I know I am rambling as there are a lot of issues here. I guess I mainly want tips that you have found to help your parents in their downsizing and moving out of their home and getting used to their new home. Thanks

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If the people moving them are genuinely caring, they will likely have a good feel for what needs to be done, since this is their business. The main thing is that your parents need to keep whatever they have room for that will make their new surroundings seem like home. Be encouraging, but don't weaken, as the move needs to be made.
Let them complain without your getting tied up in it. I'd say this is a time for detachment to some extent, so you don't get pulled into the middle of your mother complaining about your dad. That really is hard to take.
If you just tell yourself this is normal - that they understandably will find this time difficult - it will help you. You may feel better if you talk with the movers and ask how they go about deciding what must go and what to take.
Good luck,
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Thank you Carol. I really appreciate your input.

I like your point about it being a time for detachment to some point. I do agree, but then I feel guilty too. I want to be a good daughter and do what I can but also have them keep their independence, etc. They chose to stay where they are moving rather than coming closer to where I live,which they almost did a year ago.

I know the move is needed and I think they do to. It is just hard and I want to help however I can....within limits. I really do try to stay out of the middle of their issues as that is not something I can change ...but it is hard to take like you say.

Luckily, the facility has seemed to be very good about helping them figure out what furniture will fit, etc and they really are pretty ready to go as far as that is concerned. It's more the emotional stuff....
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As an ALF administrator and a daughter, I know this feeling. Overwhelmingly, people wait too long to move their folks to ALF care. Depending on the amount of help they need and where you live, "independent living" may or may not be the answer, because of waiting too long. When our parents are resistant to the change of moving and giving up some independence and control, the whole family may be in denial, to a large extent. We don't want to contemplate what their weakening means for our future, either.

Often, when families seek out "independent" living, it's almost time for an ALF, and when they consider ALF care, they can be one fall or other event away from full time nursing care, which I've seen nobody ask for yet. Even when in ALF care, declines can be managed through Hospice, extra care, etc, so that the elderly can age in place, rather than be moved from independent to ALF to nursing home. They make friends and develop a support group among others in Assisted Living, especially when it's a small place with one on one interaction and care.

Sometimes Daycare can be enough to extend our parents' stay at home for months, or years. We are there to note any changes, see to it they eat right, stay hydrated and are safe while adult children work. Some of our families have cameras at their home or apartment, so they can monitor them when they're at home. Day care is typically 5 days a week, and exposes them to activities and socialization as well as good nutrition and care.

Some families have an aide come into the home, but that doesn't give the elderly a peer group or community. They still tend to depression in relative isolation. Long Term Care insurance and Medicaid often pay only Mon to Fri daycare, but some families opt for the extra days out of pocket, or trade a week day for a weekend day. Many small ALF homes accomodate a flexible full or part time Daycare schedule for busy families.

I would recommend that the family try to stay as positive as possible about the move. For example, don't continue to apologize about placing them. This may give them the idea you will cave, so you must remain resolute and avoid rising to the 'bait' of the complaints you'll get in the adjustment stage. Your parents may try to draw you into it, and you have to avoid the situation where every interaction with staff and/or other residents, is a phone call and 'drama' about whether they rang the bell twice before someone came to their aid.

It's helpful to give the ALF administrator a list of likes and dislikes, favorite foods, activities, etc. and even ones mom/dad used to enjoy but hasn't done in a while. They need to know what they did when younger, so staff can engage them in conversation, where are they from, how many kids and grandkids they have, etc. This gives our elderly clients more a feeling of being 'home' sooner. Some people can feel 'interrogated' if we must ask a lot of questions; they may feel put on the spot because they don't remember sometimes, the answer to the questions.
When asked about favorite foods, they may say, "I eat almost everything"... They don't want to inconvenience us. And then we have fish for dinner the first night and they don't like fish...

In a big place, I know it's not easy to be as accomodating. Small ALFs provide a homelike environment, with more flexibility. Serving 5 to 8 people, we get to know their likes and dislikes, and each person has his/her favorite meal on the menu at least once or twice monthly. We have pasta to serve as a side dish when rice is on the menu, for our New York/Italian resident, and we make Latin style roast pork, which everyone loves, especially our Puerto Rican Army Veteran. And meatloaf, roast chicken, egg salad sandwiches, etc etc...

These things can go a long way toward comfort and a good adjustment for your elderly loved ones. And their room is in a House, so that's familiar and comforting too. In a big place, especially with dementia, it can lead to packing daily, thinking they're in a hotel and must go home.

I wish you the best of transitions for your folks, and just love them through it, is my suggestion. I can't imagine what caregivers did before online forums like AgingCare. Thanks for being there for all of us.

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