How do you help your seniors prepare to move to a retirement facility? How would you advise a couple if one is ready for a retirement home and the other is not?
Crimson Rambler responds:
The question of seniors moving to a retirement facility is a daunting one. In my own experience, it is complicated (often negatively) by the affectionate concern of family members (whose elders feel some sort of Moral Imperative to resist their suggestions, their arguments, their strategies, because, after all, THEY weren't through the war, what do THEY know???); and (often positively) by the example and the Very Forthright advice of their contemporaries ~~ "and I said to her, Clara, I said, you have a choice: you go into Somerset Manor and have a lovely apartment and all your meals, OR you are facing THIRD FLOOR SHADY PINES. Now which is it going to be?"
The minister often is enlisted by the family to "talk sense into Mother" -- but unless the minister is also a contemporary, she can be quickly boxed with the know-nothing non-veteran offspring. (I'm making light of this because I've been in just exactly this position.)
So how do we help them prepare? By listening -- listening to their children's frustration, listening to the seniors' apprehensions, grief, anger. And by recruiting contemporaries to maintain the links that have been built up while the seniors were in their own homes. And by transportation: I have learned that it is a kinder action, often to collect Mrs. A and take her to visit Mrs. B, than to visit Mrs. A and Mrs. B oneself, solo. The line here is: "I'm going to leave you girls to get caught up, and I'll be back in about three-quarters of an hour, and then we can have our Communion all together -- how would that be?" Because they always have much more to say to each other than I (not having been through the war) can possibly have.
You can also encourage your senior to find out whether there are folks among the new neighbours who would enjoy a monthly informal worship service, a hymn sing or Holy Communion. Some folks will do this spontaneously, phoning to say, "Well, I've found fifteen Anglicans, and I made them promise to come on Sunday if you can come and do a service for us in the afternoon!"
When the situation involves a couple needing different levels of care and assistance, the ministry of transportation becomes even more acutely necessary.
The important thing is to find ways to demonstrate that their church's love and care for them do not cease when they move into a less independent living arrangement.
I'll be most interested to hear what other RevGals' experience has been!
This can be an easy task, or a more difficult one. I have helped move people into retirement homes where they have a lot of autonomy and I have helped move people into locked units due to cognitive and memory loss issues…and everything in between.
By and large most of my effort has actually gone toward supporting the family members who are facilitating the move. I also visit people in retirement homes all the time and find that I end up being a local contact for long-distant family members who want to know that their loved one is okay.
In terms of helping the actual person making the decision to move- my role is usually one of information provider – I share what I know and have heard about the local facilities. I let them know which ones people like and why. I let them know, if they don’t already, who lives in the facility and who can offer them more inside information. I try to help them make informed decisions. If the couple is in a stalemate because one wants to move and the other does not I listen as each one discusses their reasoning and then hope they are able to make a good decision. Again, I would probably advise them to make some site visits and talk to people about any facility they were considering, so they can make informed decisions. As I said above, often my role is one of supporting the family – so this would be true as well if one member of a couple needed make the decision to separate as a couple because the other member of the couple needed to live in an assisted living facility for memory loss issues.
What I can’t do is make the decision for them, I can only offer a listening ear and some support, perhaps a little inside information from my visits to the local facilities.
Generally I have found that when people are ready to move they do, and they end up really liking it. In a retirement community they find people like themselves and plenty of activities to keep them busy. Occasionally people make the move and then shut down and enter a slow decline, but that is rare, usually people thrive and find new life. I let people know this as part of their decision making process.
And Kathrynzj writes:
This is a timely question. With all of the family, financial, physical and emotional issues wrapped up in a move away from a home to a community it is pastoral care that is filled with land mines. We live in an area heavy with a variety of senior living options so there are a wide variety represented in our congregation. Encouraging conversations between those who are already there and the ones thinking about moving there can be helpful. Some of them have restaurants open to the public as well.
Thank you, matriarchs, for your really wonderful and thoughtful answers. Are there others of you out there who have insight or experience to share? Please join our conversation in the comments section. And, as always, we welcome your questions at askthematriarch[at]gmail[dot]com.