“The More I Think About This…

box-35665_640…the more I think I should just stay here,” Lois tells her wide-eyed daughter, Mary.

Mary wants to scream. Instead, she gets up and walks into the kitchen, praying for patience.

Lois is scheduled to move into an assisted living facility in a week. It’s taken Mary almost two years to get her mom to this day in time–almost there.

Two years ago, a midnight fall resulted in a broken ankle. Lois went from hospital to rehab to assisted living, where Mary wanted her mom to remain. But because Lois couldn’t sell her condo, she decided to leave assisted living and return to her condo. And that means a three-flight climb (there’s no elevator) with shopping bags full of groceries and supplies. It’s been two years of worry for Mary, who dreads another bad news phone call.

Even though her mom’s condo hasn’t sold, Mary has been doing her best to convince Lois to move. Another recent fall in the middle of the night–no broken bones this time–became the last bit of convincing needed. Until today.

We all worry about that day–the today in Mary’s world–when our best laid plans for our carees seem to derail. When your caree begins to resist a move that you know will keep her safe, how do you keep the move moving along? Some suggestions to keep you all on track:

1. Acknowledge the worries. A move brings back all the anxiety of the first days–of a new school, new job, new community. A move is all about changes, which kicks up all our fears of the unknown. For your caree, fears may be worries about fitting in, adjusting, and getting over missing their home. They also may worry about what’s next–more declines, more health problems, more losses. You can tell your caree, “These changes can really be intimidating. What’s the biggest worry for you?” Then, just listen. As you listen, empathesize without judgment. Whatever they feel, those feelings are right for them.

2. Keep moving forward with the plans. Give your caree’s panic some space as you continue forward with the plans. You may have to make adjustments, like perhaps postponing the packing for a few days. Be flexible about the how of the move, but stick with the when–your moving date.

3. Make sure your carees can voice their concerns with others, too. If you are the organizer of the move, you may be the last one to whom your caree want to express worry and frustration. Encourage other family members and friends to be a sympathetic ear for your caree.

4. Let the facility staff know of your caree’s waffling; the social worker and/or admissions director may have ideas that can help. It can feel like your caree is the only one who pours cement in her living room so she can’t budge. The facility staff will understand your situation because it’s a common one. Call to ask for suggestions and ideas on how to manage.

5. Keep calm. Your caree’s freak-out can easily become your temper tantrum. And, nothing gets solved when a hurricane meets a tornado. Be the presence that responds with patience. When your patience putters out (and it will), give yourself a break. And, talk out the frustration you feel with friends and family members.

6. Take one day at a time. As you listen to your caree’s worries and concerns, encourage her to take one day a time with you. Let her know that you’ll tackle any problems that come up each day. When she focuses too far into the future, bring her back to the present. “Let’s focus on what today needs,” you can say.

7. Create choices. For your caree, it may feel like her life is now dictated by something else–frailty, a chronic illness, losses. Remind her of her choices: She can choose the decor and furniture arrangement, she can choose the time of day when the move takes place, she can choose what you bring for lunch on moving day. Whenever you can introduce a choice, do it.

8. Ask for a short-term commitment. If your caree worries a move won’t work, ask that she try it for a short time, like two months. During the trial period, be a great listener to your caree’s concerns and then work to resolve her complaints the best you can. Allowing them time to adjust may mean she do just that–adjust.

A move from a family home to a facility can create angst, fear and consternation. Rather than fighting these emotions, allow them a place in the process. One step at a time, you and your caree will make the move.

What tips can your share which helped when your caree moved? Please share in our comments section, below.

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About Denise Brown

I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched CareGiving.com in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

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