Many people will be traveling to visit senior parents and relatives over the coming weeks, and many of these same individuals will experience a sometimes unexpected and always unwelcome reality check — i.e. “Mom’s not doing as well as I thought,” or “I’m worried about Grandpa living alone.” They’ll return home with concerns, will probably commence countless late-night Google searches for senior housing, and begin making frequent check-in calls to their loved ones.
If your concerns are justified, resolve to do something immediately. Don’t wait until New Year’s, or for the answers to become clear. This is not to say you should move Dad into assisted living immediately, but before you call every senior living community in the area and ask about availability, before you write off the possibility of your father ever living alone again, stop.
Make a resolution to enter this process, no matter what the outcome, with the compassion, dignity and level-headedness your loved one deserves. Don’t assume you have all the right answers, and talk out all the options as a group, AFTER you’ve determined what the individual’s preferences are. What your loved one wants is what should ultimately guide the decision-making process; honor that as closely as possible, even when you think you have a better solution.
Above all, don’t treat the person any differently after your visit. Practice the Golden Rule, consider and discuss the possibilities together, and resolve to live life to the fullest whatever you decide.