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

There are many considerations, but some are definitely more important than others. When I think about my own aging mother, I know what’s important to me:

Wait until you find the ideal home

At the top of my list, I know I would very much prefer to keep my mother under my own roof until I find what I consider to be the ideal Adult Family Home for her. It might mean getting some help during the day when I am at work, but moving into a less-than-ideal home for her could be disastrous.

The best time of the year

Moving in the winter is harder than in the summer simply because the summer – at least in the Seattle area – is much more comfortable to be out and about but, perhaps more importantly than that, elderly tend to be more vulnerable to seasonally affected depression, for instance. Moving into a new home can be traumatic at almost any age, but those first few hours, days and even weeks are critical to get right for your loved one. A good start, as they say, is half the battle. All else being equal, therefore, consider making the move in, for example, August, even if October or November might have been your ideal month otherwise. Still, if your parent or loved one is unaffected my weather or by the shortness of the day, perhaps that factor will not be important.

The disposition of the Adult Family Home staff

I know I blog a lot about staff quality, but staff who have been working at an Adult Family Home residence for some time will be more familiar with the routines there, where everything is, and will know the other residents. If half the staff came on board just two days before your loved one moves in, they’ll have the added problem of acclimating to the AFH and getting to know your loved one at the same time. It’s no harm, therefore, to ask about how long the current staff has been working there.

Your loved one must be ready and happy to make the move

Thankfully, there are many state laws governing how every Adult Family Home must be run, and it makes for very nice living quarters. It’s like living at home, but with all the comfort and safety advantages of, you might say, a five-star hotel. Still, because change can be challenging for the elderly, moving into what might be the very last place they live can be quite a shock. It might be the best idea in the world, but the change is disruptive no matter how high quality the Adult Family Home is. Even if you are struggling to keep on top of looking after your aging parent at home, it’s very much in your interests to have the full cooperation of your parent throughout this. You really do want the move to be a success, and not to have to find another Adult Family Home five months later because your parent never liked the move in the first place.

I would even say, even if it makes more work for you in the short term, try to keep your soon-to-move parent leading the project all the way. That way, they will have enough ownership in the decision and process to make a big effort to make it a success when they move.

Not too soon, not too late

Some people move into an Adult Family Home only after everyone has gotten really sick of each other. The busy adult children are frustrated beyond fatigue with the extra work of looking after their parent – I’ve known one couple to actually split up over the issue – while others are perfectly capable of keeping their parent with them for another while, but still push their parent into an Adult Family Home residence long before it was needed.
There’s a “perfect time” to make the move. It’s before you are exhausted and overwhelmed from taking care of your parent, and yet after your parent was capable of looking after your parent fully.

Move before it’s too late

An Adult Family Home is ideal when a elderly citizen needs just some help. Help from someone who has training in the science and art of really looking after senior citizens. And the work is their primary occupation. A registered nurse, for example, knows exactly how to do CPR, how to use a defibrillator, when to call 911 and when not to, as well as a hundred other things.

An AFH is also designed to make it easier – and safer – to look after seniors. Just like child-rearing necessitates the installation of a number of safety devices around the home, installation of mats, support bars and emergency call buttons can make all the difference to a senior who is struggling with mobility at two in the morning.

Timing isn’t everything. Location is a top priority too!

It is of course very important to get the timing right, but it’s probably more important to move into the right Adult Family Home. You can often put your name on a list of people to be called when an opening occurs. I recommend, way ahead of when you think you’ll need it, putting your name down with a few Adult Family Homes through their website, here for example. Get on their waiting list now. All the good ones usually have a waiting list. When a room becomes available, they’ll call you. If the timing works then, it can be the best time to move.

Move when your loved one is well

If your mother is recovering from a recent illness, it might be a good idea to wait. For example, if she had a serious illness such as pneumonia, her body might still be too weak to take on the extra stress of the Big Move.

Being reasonably fit and healthy is a good condition to move in. Even though your mother is unlikely to be lugging suitcases back and forth, simply moving to a new residence takes its toll. The first week in the new place will introduce your mother, possibly, to people who may have been sick – or who currently are sick – so you want to minimize the risk of her picking up something soon after been sick herself. Keep the risk to a minimum by giving her the time to fully recover from whatever she was ill with, even if it was a bad cold.

Move early in the day

As far as the day of the actual move is concerned, choose a time when your loved one in rested. Moving into a new residence is not just a question of driving to the new place and walking in the door. It takes time to settle in, put your stuff where you want it, meet and greet the current residents, and so on. Your parent will need several hours at least to complete the move. In fact, you might, while your parent is perhaps taking a nap in your own home (or theirs) pack up the car quietly so that you can take the journey the moment they are ready.

Check back next week for the topic of nursing homes versus adult family homes.