Monday, April 22, 2013

I’m being transferred—should I take my elderly parent who lives in a Nursing Home with me?

By Bob Gregory

I recently spoke with a friend who found herself in quite a quandary and was seeking some advice.  Hard work does pay off and for her, it was a big promotion that requires her to move twelve hundred miles away from her current home.  Supported by her husband and children, this wonderful news is very exciting and a no-brainer so why the quandary?  My friend is very close to her mother and her mother currently lives in a Nursing Home literally a few miles from her home.  She is very diligent and visits her mother several times a week, if not more, and is now wondering whether she should move her mother to a new Nursing Home near her or leave her behind. I will share with you the same advise I shared with my friend—actually more questions to answer than advice to help you make a decision.

Questions you need to answer to make a decision.

1)      Is your parent healthy enough to make such a move?  This is really the starting point and will help you with your decision and determine how you discuss the move with your parent.  Depending on your parent’s health, a long distance move may be too much for them both physically and mentally.  You should discuss the move with their current caregivers as well as have your parent evaluated by their physician.  If your parent is not able to make such a move, then your decision is made for you.  You certainly do not want to jeopardize your parent’s health for the sake of convenience.

Dna. Arlinda - Elderly portrait
Dna. Arlinda - Elderly portrait
(Photo credit: Levy Carneiro Jr)
2)      Is your parent happy in the current facility?  This is very important because the facility is your parent’s home!  If your parent is happy and enjoys the facility then a move could be very upsetting to them.  Hopefully your parent is happy and has a great relationship with the caregivers and fellow residents and if so, you should be very thankful and do everything in your power to make sure that happiness and care continues!  If you are not so lucky and your parent is unhappy, a move will not necessarily make the situation any better.  Chances are your parent will not acclimate any better in a new facility and certainly a twelve hundred mile move will not help the situation.  Keep in mind that your parent is in a Nursing Home because they need Skilled Nursing help and their care should take precedents over your own desires.

3)      Are there other family members nearby?  If you have other family, especially siblings, nearby you definitely should include them in your discussion and decision.  This can be a very touchy situation as not all family members have the same feelings and emotional attachment to parents.  If the decision is to move your parent, make sure all family members are in agreement.  You may find other members of the family are willing to step up and take the lead on overseeing the care of your parent.  You might also find that your parent does not want to leave the rest of the family to go with you.  Don’t let your feelings get hurt or in the way of a good decision.

Content to stay
4)      Does your parent want to move?  Even if your parent is medically capable of moving, do they want to move?  The new city and job may be very exciting for you and your family but for your elderly parent, it is a new Nursing Home and new caregivers and chances are they will not be able to enjoy the new city.  Yes, you will be nearby to continue the visits, but I hope for you and your parent that your visits are not the only source of happiness for your parent.  As I stated earlier, if you are lucky your parent enjoys their current “home” and the people who provide care.  Don’t get offended if your parent doesn't want to move, instead be happy that they are content and happy!

If you have answered all the above questions, your decision should be easy—not really!  You will be better prepared but I can assure you the decision will not be easy.  I generally find two situations that arise.  First and most common, your parent is not capable of making such a move but does not want to be left behind, they want to move with you!  This is a heart-wrenching situation as no amount of reasoning will convince your parent that it is in the best interest for both of you that your parent remains behind.  This is even more difficult if there is no other family and/or your parent was not happy in the current facility.  I encourage you to do what is best for your parent regardless of how much it may hurt both of you.  The second common situation is that your parent is healthy enough for the move but doesn’t want to go!  Keep in mind your decision to move was for the betterment of yourself and your family so don’t be discouraged that your parent does not have the same feelings about the move as you do.  Take some comfort in the fact that your parent must be happy and feels well cared for if they prefer to stay behind.  There is a third situation but it occurs so rarely that I dare not get your hopes up—your parent is well enough for a move and can’t wait to go with you!  If this occurs, please leave me a comment below—I’m very proud for you!

Moving On In
Moving On In (Photo credit: notnef)
If you are moving your parent, make sure you move your family first and get them settled before transitioning your parent.  This will allow you to focus on settling your family with the least amount of stress before doing the same for your parent.  Once your family is settled, do your research on local Nursing Homes and find the right home.  Employ the help of the new facility to facilitate the move of your parent as special transportation may be needed.  Stay in touch by phone if possible during the period you are away from your parent to provide constant reassurance that they are not being left behind. I also encourage you to make sure this is a long term move for you and your family as your parent may be capable of one major move, but I doubt they’ll ever be able to make two!

If you are moving without your parent, whether it’s because they are not able to make the move or they don’t want to make the move, I encourage you to seek the help of a counselor.  A professional can help both of you address the concerns of the separation each of you may have.  Leaving a loved one behind is difficult even under the best situation and you need to be positive and committed to the decision that each of you have made.

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Bob Gregory is an advocate for Seniors and is one of the founders of At, we are dedicated to helping families get the Elder Care help they need without having to provide their personal information! If find you need an assisted living facility or other type of senior facility, please consider
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1 comment:

  1. Bob, this is an excellent piece and I totally agree with you. We do not want to upset them nor take them from their familiar surrounding if it is not warranted. It has become more common that adult children and their parents live long distance from each other. This is when visitation sometime deceases but you still want reassurance that your loved one is ok. My company offers a Long Distance Care Service which means we will visit your loved one for you, whether they are home, in a senior facility or hospital in the southeastern regions. If you have any questions regarding this service, please feel free to contact me at