“Mom, I think we need to discuss a different living arrangement for you.”
This was the beginning of a conversation I endured between my mother and my grandma, just a couple of years ago. My grandma had suffered a terrible fall in the middle of the night, and even though she wore a Life Alert necklace, she refrained from using it because “she didn’t want to alarm anyone at that hour”. And so, my mother was notified at 10am the following morning. Grandma had been on the floor for nearly 12 hours. She was cold, thirsty, and badly bruised. She had been unable to get up to use the toilet. Thankfully she had not broken any bones, this time… Suffice to say, it was an eye-opening experience.
When my mother broached the subject of moving to an assisted care facility, she expected the all-too-common immediate response. Nobody wants to admit when it is time to give up any of their freedoms, and since grandpa had passed, that house was what had kept my grandma close to him. Thus, it was no shock that my mother’s suggestion was answered with a resounding “NO”. Because, still, at 90 years old and 89 pounds, when this Gram says “NO.”, by God, She means it.
Once the decision was made, it was a slow labor of love extricating my grandma from her beloved home, taking care to give her much oversight of how her things were being treated, and making sure that family members received heirlooms due them.
When it is time to change a loved one’s living arrangements is seldom as crystal clear. Many considerations need to be taken into account. The most basic being: “What are their medical needs?” “What are their physical limitations?” “How much help do we need?” And “What can we afford?” This is a conversation best started early, while everyone is strong, lucid, and speaking from their heart about their final wishes. A living will, an Advanced Directive should be urged in order to carry out, with as little haggle as possible, their desired disposition and estate plans.
It seems to be human nature that discussing the aging process is a subject which we would procrastinate about. We believe that there is so much time. Having the tough conversations now will relieve stress, and may bring you and your loved ones closer through the process.
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