Persistence is Important—Even When Mom Says She’s Not Ready for Retirement Living

Posted by Jim Coumbs on May 18, 2011 10:12:00 AM

mom not ready for retirement livingPosted by Jim Coumbs, General Manager

One of the most unfortunate things I have seen in my career working with seniors is when someone waits too long to get the benefits of retirement or assisted living. Time and time again I’ve observed families and potential residents waiting to make the move—only to have something truly awful (such as an injury or a serious illness) happen.  Then the family faces a crisis they have to deal with immediately.  That creates a lot of stress for them and their loved one.

I have also seen similar incidences involving seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s whose families waited too long before acting.  This happened with my own family.  We waited until some very dangerous situations forced us to act before we finally made a decision to move my grandmother. In hindsight we knew we had waited too long. 

We had discussed being able to “look ourselves in the mirror” 20 years from now— knowing we made the right decision.  If we had waited for Oma to change her mind (which never would have happened) it would have been hard to look in the mirror with a clear conscience.  We did the right thing—even if we were a little late. You can’t imagine the relief we felt once we knew grandma was in a safe place.  It wasn’t easy, but we knew we had made the right decision.

Working with seniors on a daily basis, I get to see how many of them flourish when they get into the right living situation. For instance, I’m amazed at the difference it makes when our residents get daily quality nutrition.  So often seniors aren’t getting enough liquids or their diet is out of balance because they are only eating foods that are easy to prepare—but lacking nutritional value. Simply making sure that they are consistently taking their medications can lead to marked improvements in their wellbeing.  And participating socially in our activities can also make a huge difference in their quality of life.

In spite of these benefits, I recognize that it can be extremely hard for someone to move from a house they’ve lived in—and made memories in—for years. That’s one reason I encourage families to look for a facility that offers month-to-month rental.  This gives your loved one peace of mind of knowing that—if this really isn’t the right place for them—they can move out with a 30 day notice.  Most reputable communities are confident that if a resident gives their community a try, they will say: “I should have done this sooner. I didn’t think it was possible, but I feel at home here.”

It’s important for families to understand that the family’s job isn’t to make sure mom or dad is ready to move—it’s to get mom or dad to the point of being willing to give it a try.  I wish that we had done that in my own family years ago!

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Tags: Process of Retirement Living in West Seattle, West Seattle Senior Living

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