Caregiving – 4 Tips for when Mom’s moving in
Years ago, back before my Dad passed away, I begged my parents to move in with me in California. They were getting older and I felt they needed some extra attention. Unfortunately, I was traveling a lot at the time and they didn’t want to move across the country where they didn’t know anyone except for me who would have to leave them on their own for days or weeks on end.
I eventually moved to Las Vegas to be closer to family and, once again, asked my parents to move in. They still weren’t interested. They wanted to stay as independent as they could for as long as they could. They’d lived in their Midwest home for decades and were not interested in moving.
Once my Dad passed away, I asked my Mom to move in with me. She said to give her at least two years. Well, it took almost 10 years, and she’s now been living with me about five years. Lots of things have changed over that time and the world I anticipated having with my Mom as my roommate soon turned to pretty much fulltime caregiver as she’s now nearly 100 years old.
I wouldn’t give it up for the world! It’s an honor to take care of my Mom and, although some days can be challenging, it’s also very fulfilling. I’m blessed to have her around so long and she makes me smile every day.
I actually tried to start blogging about my experience when she first moved in but it was such an adjustment for both of us, I’m not sure I could have contributed much. Now, five years down the road, I’ve learned a ton, not only through my own experience but through others who have shared with me or by observation. So, periodically, I’ll share some thoughts/opinions about what I learned taking care of my Mom. This is by no means meant to be medical advice. This is just the experience of a daughter taking care of her Mom.
Here are a few tips to get us started:
- They won’t move until they’re ready.
No matter how badly you want them to move or how hard you try, parents can be stubborn. Who can blame them? Don’t you want to be independent for as long as you can? Suddenly, once they decide, the move can’t come quickly enough. When Mom finally gave me the go-ahead, due to my schedule and the weather, it actually took nearly nine months. We continued to talk about it the whole time, and when it was time to do the move, she left the decisions in my hands. She was ready.
- Make them feel at home.
This is a hard one. You have your house just perfect, then suddenly you’re adding another member to the family. It’s like combining households when you get married. Prepare a place that’s all theirs, like a bedroom and bathroom, but don’t limit their existence to that small space. Have you seen Frazier? Well, my Mom plopped her favorite chair in the living room in front of the television when she first moved in and it’s still there. She’s also very fond of clocks. I counted 77 at her residence before I packed her up. I told her she could take 12. I think we’ve hung eight.
- Bring stuff that’s familiar to them.
Sure, you want to buy all new furniture to make them feel special, or perhaps it’s already in the room they’ll use. Maybe it’s a cross-country move and it’s cheaper to just leave the old stuff behind and buy new. Doesn’t matter. It’s important for them to wake up in the morning and be surrounded by things they’re familiar with. We brought my Mom’s bedroom furniture (not the mattress) with her and she’s grateful we did, although furniture and clocks aren’t the only things to make one happy. I’ll never forget the look on my Mom’s face when I pulled her favorite paring knife from the box. She felt at home. It was something she recognized and that, combined with other goodies we brought along just for her, made her start to feel comfortable. She even uses her own dishes because she’s used them for years.
- Hold their hand.
The older they are, the harder the move will be. My Mom went from being able to easily walk to all her favorite stores to not even knowing the address and phone number where she lives. She was scared. Every sound was new. When we go anywhere, she immediately grabs for my hand for fear of getting lost. Chances are, at her age, she wouldn’t go anywhere alone but when we’re out together, she’s still a bit scared. As she told me, she held my hand when I was little and now it’s my turn to hold hers.
There’s lots more to come so please come back for future posts.
Your Aunti Cindi