When Your Parent Needs Long Term Care

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Beth Gorchynski
Independent Contractor, Senior Care Access

When your parent needs long term care, it is normal to feel overwhelmed or confused.

It can be hard to hear that someone you care about needs to move into a care facility. The transition is a major life event that evokes many emotions. Whether the person has been struggling to live independently for a while or a sudden critical event has changed their ability to care for themselves. For many families, this transition happens during a time of crisis, when there is often pressure to make quick decisions. Feeling overwhelmed is normal.  Here are some things you can do to help you and your loved one navigate the move.

Acknowledge the Emotional Impact of Senior Transitions

Recognize that when a parent needs long term care, it is an emotional situation for yourself and your loved one.  It’s easy to forget that they are grieving the loss of their home and independence. You will feel challenged trying to pay attention to all the logistics and decisions that need to be made.  Check in with your loved one often and ask how they are feeling. Give them time to grieve for the changes that are happening.   Allow yourself to grieve and remember that other family members may be struggling too.  Try to respect everyone’s feelings. Create a place for open and honest conversation to help reduce conflict when difficult decisions have to be made.     

Understand Senior Living Options

The world of continuing care can be very confusing.  Ask questions. Tell the healthcare team if you aren’t clear on the different living options that are being discussed. Take notes and be sure to ask for written materials or websites for additional information.

Talk to others who have had experience with different facilities. However, keep in mind that your loved one’s needs may require a different level of care or a specific environment. Make a list of things that are most important to you and your loved one to help you determine the care facility that can best meet those needs.

Consider the Logistics of Moving a Loved One to a Care Facility

There are many other things to consider when a person moves into a care facility that can add to the stress. What decisions do you need to make about the family home and belongings?  Are there financial or legal measures arrangements to put in place? Perhaps there is a spouse or someone else in the home who will need more support to live independently.  To gain a sense of control over the situation, make a list of all the items that need to be addressed. Manage the high priority items first and leave others until after the move.

Ask for Help

Supporting a loved one moving into care is not a transition that you want to tackle alone. Build a support system and accept help when it is offered. Family members or friends can visit facilities with you or in your place; they can do online research, help sort and pack belongings or recommend a professional service.  They may simply listen as you work through the process.    

Websites like Senior Care Access https://www.seniorcareaccess.com/ can help you research senior living options or to find professional services in your area.

Professional consultants in the Calgary area can work with you to identify what needs to be done. They can help you create and carry out an action plan that is specific to your situation.

Navigating a loved one’s transition from their home to a care facility may seem overwhelming and impossible. Take the time to acknowledge the emotions, understand the available options, break down the tasks that need to be done and accept help. These strategies can make the process easier to manage.   Be kind to yourself, take a breath and know that you will get through this.

About the Author

Thanks to guest author Beth Gorchynski for sharing her experience helping seniors and their families navigate the transition into long term care.

Beth Gorchynski has over thirty years of experience in seniors’ health and mental health.   She has worked in a variety of roles, all focussed on improving the quality of care in facility and community based services.    This experience has provided her with a broad understanding of the many different services and living options available to older adults and their families. Beth is excited to use this experience now as a consultant in Calgary with Senior Care Access supporting individuals and their families on their journey through later life.

You can contact Beth: beth@seniorcareaccess.com
TEL: 403-523-9906

Prior to, during and after this type of transition, your family may have to talk about some sensitive subjects.
Get some advice from our article: Tough Conversations with Aging Parents.

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