When is the right time to consider moving your senior parent into an Adult Family Home in Bothell?

The right time, if there is a simple answer to this question, is when your loved one is physically and emotionally ready for the move. At least, when they are at an optimal point where disruption to them and to your family’s schedule is at a minimum. Still, it can be a challenging move for many individuals, so let’s look at what the challenges are, and how to overcome them with the minimum of fuss.

A move at any age is an effort. It can be enormous in our senior years

If you have ever moved house, or even apartment, you know how much effort it can be. Even if you pack up your stuff slowly over weeks or months, there’s a lot of it you can’t do until the last moment. That’s because you still need, for example, to sleep in a bed, have shampoo in the bathroom, watch TV every night perhaps, so on the Big Day of the Move, there’s all these chores that must be taken care of within a single day.

For a senior, they probably won’t want to haul very many things with them – because most things are already there – but the challenge is more psychological or emotional than physical. As we age, we tend to get more ‘set in our ways’, as the saying goes, and it takes more and more effort to adjust to new ways of doing anything. So even though a resident of an Adult Family Home might not need anything of any size to be moved for them, their age simply makes the move more of a chore.

Preparing for the move is best done well in advance

Most Adult Family Homes operate at full occupancy most of the time. That is, their maximum number of residents – six – they are allowed to host in a single dwelling usually means they can’t simply squeeze in another resident. If their occupancy is five, then yes, there is obviously no problem. But it is not always the best idea to wait until a vacancy opens up. It is good to have visited the Adult Family Home of your preference, and to be on their waiting list if they have one. Later, when that call comes to tell you there is an opening, you are more or less ready to make the move. At the very moment you might have to make a choice promptly – because others may be waiting in line, especially if the Adult Family Home is good value for money and meets your requirements well – you have already had a good look at it, and even had interviews the management and care giver staff there.

What does it mean to prepare for a move into an Adult Family Home? Top of my personal list is to have a collection of personal items more or less ready to go. No matter what happens, you will get a few days at least to commit to and make the move, so you will have time to, for example, get clothes washed and dried, and/or picked up from the dry cleaners. These finer points might feel like a bit of overkill, but have you ever arrived at a hotel and opened your suitcase to discover that some of the clothes are not 100% clean? To complete the experience of arrival, it’s important that the ‘open suitcase’ experience is good.

Pictures of loved ones are a great way to keep those few days comfortable. You might not fully appreciate your parent’s emotional condition or burden at this time – they may be keeping their feelings to themselves if for no other reason but to protect you – but a lot is happening. Most seniors guess that this may be their ‘last move’, and with that comes a lot of emotion. It’s almost the opposite of a move into your first home. Do you remember that? The future stretches out to infinity, and nothing is permanent. You feel empowered by everything around you, and there seems to be no limits in your life. Well, moving into an Adult Family Home is challenging for most. That’s why a good and complete picture of your loved one’s family can be a huge help. It’s a lifeline of love and hope that sits in its framed unit on the top of a dresser.

Making a day of the Big Move

This is where a balance must be struck. On the one hand, you want to celebrate the move and have a bit of a party, but on the other hand, you want to limit the stress to your loved one. It might be a better idea to keep the ‘celebration’ to a week or two later. That will give them the emotional space to adjust to their new living quarters and get some good rest before the family shows up with presents.

Make sure your kids show up. Although visiting homes for the elderly is not often top of kids’ preferred list of places to go, this is in fact bigger for them than for your parent. Decades later, those visits to their grandparent way back will serve them well when they are old enough to experience something similar. Dress your kids up well, and be ready to take a few photos in the new place.

As we age, we do develop skills for coping with loss and pain. Even in my fifties, I am experiencing some loss of hearing, vision, flexibility, memory and strength. I am happy how I adjust to all of this, but I say this only to point out that, by the time most of us reach eighty, we have accumulated many skills in the art of dealing with loss of many types. That’s why it’s important to work with your parent in planning for the move.

Don’t wait until there is a crisis

When our child rearing stage is in full swing, we tend to overlook a lot of less urgent things happening around the house, but if one or both of our own aging parents are living with us, there is an opportunity for both overcrowding and loneliness. Overcrowding is when your aging parent is not getting the space and comfort they need to relax and have a restful day. Loneliness occurs when they get to spend big amounts of time on their own. That can be because they are isolated in a mother-in-law flat type of situation cut off from the house, or simply that the house is unoccupied – other than they themselves – for most of the day, and they are there alone. Tension can build up for these or for other reasons. When you are maxed out managing your own life and getting impatient with your parent, tempers can flare and relationships harmed.

Don’t wait until there is a crisis. Plan for that move into an Adult Family Home sooner rather than later.


Image by mari lezhava