Seeing your parent’s decline is upsetting, especially since it is mostly beyond your control. The final decision about what’s next is ultimately up to the person who will be moving or receiving care, but it’s up to you to make peace with the fact that your loved one is aging.
Aging and all that accompanies it is inevitable. Too many people waffle in denial, avoid difficult decisions, and quickly find themselves in crisis situations. Making choices in a crisis is far from ideal.
Knowing when to start the search for care is not a hard science. There is no flow chart that says, “If a loved one has A, or shows signs of B, choose C.” Some wait too long, while others jump the gun, suggesting an Alzheimer’s unit the moment a loved one leaves the stove on or misplaces a house key.
The best approach? If you are concerned about a parent or parents, talk to them right away. Share your concerns with compassion, respect, and sensitivity.
Next, establish their preferences (i.e., in-home care or assisted living? small, family-like community setting or large, resort-style campus? a place close to the grandkids or a return to her hometown?). Then, discuss all possibilities before things get worse. The situation may get better, and if it does, you’ll know exactly what to do in the future.
If you have siblings, set up a time that you can all talk together, but make sure parents' wishes are honored above all.
Get a sense for what might be the most appropriate level of care and always let your loved one’s preferences guide the search.