A Daughter’s Perspective: Moving My Dad To Assisted Living
As a registered nurse for over 50 years, and as co-owner of a homecare company, the many challenges and complexities of aging are not unfamiliar to me…adult children are not always in agreement with what is best for a parent, and the parent is often resistant to accepting help and/or making a move…finances and inheritance expectations may be a factor, whether or not there are adequate funds…and sometimes it is simply the desire to remain at home, a place with years of memories and emotional attachments. In the vast majority of cases, people wait until there is a ‘crisis’ that forces them to make a decision, whether it’s a move to assisted living, a move to a nursing home, or to hire at-home services…
Fortunately in this situation, my sister and I were on the same page, wanting my father to spend his hard-earned assets on himself…another positive angle here was that my father was living in a condominium that he did not have any emotional attachments to…it was not the home that he raised his family in, as he lived there alone for 20 years since the passing of my mother. His recent transition to assisted living was a proactive move. From start to finish, it was a positive and collaborative experience – no crisis, and no arguments whatsoever.
Certainly no two experiences are the same and certain health care challenges such as memory loss can complicate decisions even further. Never is it easy. By sharing the basic details of our process, my wish is to be helpful in some way to some of you. While over the years I have offered significant advice as a health care professional, this is not so much professional advice as it is ‘a daughter’s perspective’, to hopefully benefit you with insights from my recent experience.
What triggered the idea of Assisted Living? At the age of 90, my dad lived independently, only a few miles from family…although he was still taking care of himself, he had become much more frail…partly attributed to COVID, partly to the advancement of Parkinson’s…he was losing weight despite the fact that we provided frequent meals and had him over for dinner regularly…his social circle was getting smaller and he was alone for most days. He tired very easily and it seemed likely that he might soon need help with showering, dressing, etc.
How did we bring up the idea to him? One evening during the holiday season my sister and I were out to dinner with my dad…I just went for it, speaking loudly since he is hard of hearing… “Dad, have you ever given any thought to assisted living?” :-0 To our surprise, he replied, “Yes, I have thought about it. I would be open to seeing what they offer…” Wow. That was a relief! That’s all I needed to hear…the search was on…
How did we choose a place? Being in the healthcare industry, my professional relationships were very helpful…they recommended Waterstone of Lexington, a brand new community that was less than five minutes from my home, which would be a huge priority. Unbeknownst to my father, I scheduled a tour for myself in mid-December. It could not have been nicer, I could not have been more impressed – and I am not easy to impress! It was luxury living in a space that felt like a hotel residence. I was sold, but what about my father, and what about my sister’s opinion?
Being the practical thinker, my husband said that I should visit at least one more place for comparison of the space and the pricing. On it. I quickly visited another local and well-regarded community, which will remain nameless…at close to the same price, it was a completely different vibe – dreary, dated, and much more of a ‘nursing home’ atmosphere. No way.
Fast forward to the week before Christmas: I brought in my father for a tour, and my sister scheduled a visit for herself. All were impressed, all in agreement that this move would give my father an improved quality of life. And while he technically does not yet need any ‘assistance’ (with medications, getting dressed, etc), in ‘assisted living’ you receive three full meals per day, whereas in the ‘independent living’ units it is only one. On January 10th, a deposit was given on a bright and spacious one-bedroom unit in assisted living.
How did the move go? Thanks to the tremendous efforts of my husband, all went smoothly and he moved in on March 3rd. The food has been remarkably excellent, the staff friendly, and the other residents welcoming. Gentle Giants in Winchester were the movers we used, and they did a great job. His new space has all of his favorite things, including his computer, a Nespresso machine, and a Betta fish in a tank! We are now cleaning out and preparing his condo for sale.
Are you or a loved one considering assisted living? Glad to help out in any way I can…please leave your questions in the comments below and I will answer you asap.
Here are a few pics from the move…
Work hard. Play hard. Enjoy every day.
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Wow! Such a beautiful story Candy. Such a testament to you and your family, for your willingness to have those difficult conversations, and most especially to your dad, for being open minded and willing to be proactive and adventurous as life circumstances change. Wishing him every happiness in his new home!!
Thank you so much Pat. It is very different to be ‘on the other side’. 🙂