If you are preparing for a parent’s move to a senior living community, you might be wondering what your role in their life will be after this transition. Will you still be their caregiver? Should you stay involved in their care? Or is it time to step back and let the professionals take over? After being responsible for supporting an aging parent’s needs, it can be tough to imagine what comes next.
Family members can also grapple with difficult emotions, such as guilt and fear. It’s common to worry that your parent might feel deserted. Or to wonder what other people think of you for making this choice. Some families may feel conflicted about which community is best for their loved one and whether they made the right decision.
While this move gives your parent a chance to live their best quality of life, getting your heart to accept this new chapter won’t happen overnight. It often takes time to adjust. By being patient and approaching this transition in a positive manner, you’ll likely find your role in your parent’s life has changed for the better.
When adult children describe how their lives are different once a parent moves to a senior living community, there’s one common thread repeated time and again. Which is, their relationship has returned to that of a parent and a child. Instead of hurried days trying to meet a parent’s needs and worrying about not being a good caregiver, adult children can relax and find joy in the time spent with their senior loved one again. They can engage in hobbies and fun activities that both enjoy.
As you look ahead to redefining your role in your parent’s life, there are a few things to be mindful of.
From Family Caregiver Back to Adult Child
First, remember that the knowledge you gained from caring for your parent can help make their transition to a senior living community go more smoothly. For example, if your parent has dementia, the insight you can share about how they like to spend their time and what helps them feel connected will be invaluable.
Does their day go better when you keep them busy in the morning? Is helping with small housekeeping tasks a way they can feel more productive and independent? This is good information for their new caregiving team to have upfront.
Here are some other suggestions that may help make this move a more positive one for both of you:
Ask questions: Remember that it’s okay to ask questions as you learn how the community operates and the role each team member plays in your parent’s new life. It might help if you and your parent write down staff names and titles in a journal. You can also make notes about the people you meet who work at the community, other residents, and their families. It’s a lot of information to remember initially, so these notes will keep you from having to ask people the same questions again and again.
Also, make sure team members have your contact information and encourage them to use it. Let them know you are available and want to be an active part of your parent’s life.
Take care of you: Family caregiving can be demanding and exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Once your parent has made this transition and is settled in, give yourself permission to relax and restore. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit or call them. It’s just a suggestion to give yourself some quality “me” time.
If you’ve been skipping annual physicals because time was in short supply, consider getting caught up on appointments and health screenings. If it’s been a long time since you’ve enjoyed a night out with your friends, reconnect with them and get a date on the calendar.
Get involved: Another way to still feel a part of your loved one’s new chapter in life is to get involved. Most senior living communities welcome family members’ participation in activities and events. Depending on your schedule and interests, you’ll likely find a variety of options to choose from, including volunteering.
Volunteers play a vital role in enriching resident lives. You’ll find them assisting with activities, answering phones, and much more. Ask around to see which team member is responsible for volunteers, and find out what kind of opportunities there are.
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About Presbyterian Senior Living
PSL is a mission-driven organization that lives our values of integrity, mutual respect, creative curiosity, and connectedness. Building on a legacy of 96 years, we provide residential and care services to more than 6,000 seniors in 27 locations across the mid-Atlantic region of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Delaware.