This is a sponsored post for the Global Influence Network. As always, all opinions stated here are 100% my own or those of my family.
Tomorrow I’ll be spending the day with my dad and my brother. In other circumstances, this would be something to look forward to – and I do look forward to seeing both of them, since I live on the other side of the state and only see them a few times a year normally. But the purpose of this specific trip is to help pack our dad’s belongings up, because this weekend he and his long-time lady friend and roommate, P, will be moving from their apartment to a senior living facility.
This move has been discussed off and on for a little while now, but became an absolute necessity earlier this autumn, when we discovered that the cancerous tumor my 85-year-old dad had been undergoing radiation treatments for all summer had spread, into his lungs. He began chemotherapy treatment several weeks ago and has been feeling weaker and sicker ever since. His roommate, P, is not in the best of health either – and is unable to care for him. In fact, until now he had been caring for her, as she is several years older than him and has struggled with what is either Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia for the past few years. Neither of them actually wants to move – they keep insisting that they are happy where they are – but with no support or amenities in their current apartment complex and very little family nearby, it’s gotten to the point where there is really no other choice.
When the idea of the move was initially brought up, it was as a ‘someday when they need it’ type of option, and the plan was to look into senior independent living facilities near their current apartment complex. My brother has taken the brunt of most of the physical work in caring for both of our aging parents over the past year, and he’s been in almost constant contact with P’s kids as well. My dad’s cancer diagnosis last spring brought with it the need for me to become much more involved and brought into the email discussions that were taking place. Trying to manage a parent’s care is not easy, and it’s even more difficult having to do so long-distance and/or with busy home and work lives. P’s daughter lives out-of-state, my brother is building a business from the ground up, and I live across the state and also have kids at home, all of which complicate our ability to get together in-person at the same time.
Searching for the best long-term care option was made easier for us by the fact that P’s family attorney recommended a facility where his own mother lives. It’s close to where my dad and P live now, and while it is an independent living facility, there are many services and amenities offered, such as on-site dining, concierge service, weekly housekeeping, and scheduled transportation for appointments and errands. There’s also on-site beauty/barber, postal, pharmacy and fitness services, which minimizes the need for residents to leave the grounds for routine errands. If/when necessary there is also an on-site nurse as well. It’s a good option that keeps them living independently together (for now) as they want, while providing support services that they desperately need. The decision was easy to make even before seeing the facility itself, although P’s kids and my brother took them on a tour of it a couple of weeks ago when P’s daughter was in town to help finalize the paperwork.
Although the decision was an easy one, convincing P and my dad that this is the best option was not easy. They don’t like feeling as if they don’t have a say in the matter or a choice in where they will live. That has to be a horrible feeling – to realize that you suddenly no longer have control over your own life. I’ve talked to my dad on the phone since the decision was made, but tomorrow is the first time I’ll see him in person since the lease was signed. He won’t physically be able to help much with the packing, and I know that having others go through his things will be hard on him too. I am glad that there’s a resource like the Care Options section of CareConversations.org, to help in making decisions about what type of long-term care is best for aging parents and to provide advice and resources about how to plan for this type of move as well.
My brother and I know that much depends on our dad’s ability to fight off this cancer and we are aware that if chemotherapy does not help, there will be many future decisions that will need to be made about his long-term care. We are hoping that he and P will be able to stay together as long as possible – they are very attached to and dependent on each other. Having them in a living facility that caters specifically to seniors will give all of us kids peace of mind (for now) as we focus on supporting my dad through his cancer journey.
Please join others who are interested in this important topic at the #CareConvo Twitter party with @Resourcefulmom on 11/12 at 8 PM ET!