How Do We Help Mom & Dad?

What to Do When Roles Reverse

LaraWilliams 1

 You’re driving home, and you’re worried. You’ve just been to visit your mom for the third time this week; she seems to need more and more help each time you return. She has been pretty down since dad passed away, and hardly ever leaves the house. Her nutritional habits are a little concerning, as well. Standing to cook a full meal is just too much, so she has resorted to eating little bits of TV dinners. Two weeks ago when you visited, you intended to get her prescriptions refilled. But when you looked at the pill bottles, the medicines were hardly used at all.

Mom’s health is clearly not what it used to be, even a short time ago. And her memory is beginning to show little gaps, too. You aren’t sure if living alone is the safest thing anymore, but Mom says everything is ok, and even seems to resent your concern.

You know the best thing for her would be a move to senior housing community. Now, how do you make that happen? She refuses to go to “a home.” She’s fine, for the hundredth time! And you have no idea where look, or what to look for. Where do you start?

First things first. Get out and comparison-shop. Take mom, and give her the opportunity to see what is out there. This will make the final step easier on both of you. Look at what communities offer, how they are staffed, how clean the building is, and how the residents look. Are they happy, involved in activities? Do they look well cared for?

After touring at least three communities, go home and go over all the information you have gathered. Use a guide to help you compare one to the other. Evaluate what you are getting for the cost involved. The cheapest place may not necessarily give you the most bang for your buck. Look at cost per service instead of just the sticker price.

Then do your research. Look the companies up online, and find out how they are doing financially. Use more information than just what you get off their site. Has the company sold any buildings lately? Do they have plans to sell any in the future? This could directly affect Mom later on. Next call either your local ombudsman or Department of Social Services. Ask about any citations the community has received. Have they been cited for problems like understaffing, resident neglect, or cleanliness?

So now you have done the legwork. You feel you know the best place for mom. So does she, and according to her, that place is still her own home! Do you just sit and wait for her to be ready, knowing that day may never come? Or worse, wait until something serious happens and she has no choice but to move? It is now time to return to the community you have decided upon.

Call and set an appointment for lunch at the community. She can try out the food, which is often one of the biggest concerns many people have. Get a copy of the activity calendar while you are there and meet with the Activity Director. Find an activity that looks appealing to mom and come back for that. This will not only show her there is a lot to do, but it will give her an opportunity to meet some of the residents. Ask for a list of residents' family members, and call them about additional concerns you and your mom may still have. It’s a good idea to see what people who don’t work in the building think!

You may want to consider a respite or “get acquainted stay” so Mom will get to know some of the residents and feel more at home. Finally, ask to be shown some apartments, and together with Mom choose one that appeals to her. By the time you have done all of this, Mom should feel better about the idea. Making her a part of this decision will help tremendously. It will let her know that you aren’t trying to take away her independence, just provide her with a better quality of life.
In the end, this is what she will have – a better quality of life among new friends and you will have a new found peace of mind!


Lara Williams is the Executive Director at River oaks Assisted Living and Memory Care. River Oaks is a newly renovated luxury assisted living and memory care community in Beaufort, SC and has the distinct honor of being the only assisted living community in South Carolina with all care team associates certified as Dementia Care Specialist’s through the University of South Carolina. 1251 Ladys Island Dr Beaufort SC 29935


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