Talking to Your Elderly Parents About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Talking to Your Elderly Parents About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Older adults are among the first in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccines. This is because seniors have a heightened risk of experiencing more severe symptoms from the coronavirus. The vaccines developed by makers Moderna and Pfizer, were authorized by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use in the U.S. in mid-December. Many assisted living residents are already receiving vaccinations, with more expected in the first part of 2021.

NOTE: The Classic residents and staff recently received their first shots of the Moderna vaccine and are scheduled for a second round of shots sometime in mid-February.

While many older adults are excited or hopeful about getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, others might be confused, hesitant, or afraid. Caregivers and family members can play a pivotal role in acknowledging these concerns and helping seniors evaluate what’s best for their health.

  • Encourage open discussion

If you and your senior relatives have different opinions and feelings about the COVID-19 vaccine, certain strategies can help bridge communication gaps, address concerns, and invite discussion. The following active listening traits can enhance your conversation:

  • Statements like “I understand your concerns” or “I know you’re uncertain” let your parent know you’re considering their feelings.
  • Paraphrasing and asking for clarification. Reiterating what your parent says shows you’re paying attention, and provides an opportunity to explain and clear up misunderstandings. Phrases like “It sounds like…” and “So, what I hear you saying…” can be effective openings to summarize a loved one’s points and further conversation.
  • Asking questions. Seek to better understand your loved one’s point of view by asking questions like, “What about the COVID-19 vaccine concerns you?” and “What information do you need about the COVID-19 vaccine?” This can deepen discussion and provide reassurance.
  • Discuss the vaccine’s efficacy

It’s widely understood that seniors are at increased risk for serious illness and death from the coronavirus, which is highly contagious. According to the FDA, which ensures vaccine safety, the Moderna vaccine has a 94.1% efficacy rate, while the Pfizer vaccine boasts 95% efficacy.

  • Address safety and risk concerns

Research suggests side effects of the vaccine are minimal, such as pain at the injection site or a low-grade fever. According to a study of 40 older adults published in the New England Journal of Medicine, no seniors reported adverse effects a month after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, early studies show that older adults may be at a lower risk of vaccine side effects when compared with younger people.

  • Rely on trusted, expert sources

It can be exhausting to follow all the news surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine. Avoid becoming overwhelmed by identifying one or a few credible, unbiased sources. Seniors and their families can seek guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the World Health Organization (WHO). A trusted local medical institution may also be a good source of information.

  • Talk to your doctor

Sometimes a personal outside perspective can provide much-needed information and counsel. Not only can a doctor share medical expertise, but he/she can also ensure your parent doesn’t have allergies to a COVID-19 vaccine ingredient or other health conditions that could increase their risk of vaccine side effects.

  • Consider the vaccine testing process

When talk to your parent about the COVID-19 vaccine, it may be helpful to share information about how safety and effectiveness were determined. Some insights to share:

  • The Pfizer vaccine trial involved 44,000 people, including older adults
  • The Moderna vaccine trial involved 30,351 individuals, including older adults

Scientists who oversaw these studies observed participants for an average of two months after they received the vaccine, noting only minor side effects.

  • Consider the social benefits and return to normalcy

Getting vaccinated won’t instantly transport seniors to their pre-pandemic lifestyle. It is however, the beginning of a road to a less restrictive existence. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, older adults may have missed out on seeing family and friends and participating in fun activities in their senior living communities. Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine can be a step toward returning to beloved hobbies and rebuilding in-person social connections.

Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe for Elderly Adults?

Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe for Elderly Adults?

Ever since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized emergency use of the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, older adults and their caregivers have worried about the shot’s safety. People want to be certain that the new COVID-19 vaccines are safe for the elderly. Also of concern is the possibility of any long-term vaccine side effects. Is it better to wait and see how the vaccines affect people before signing up to get vaccinated?

These are a few of the concerns and questions caregivers and older adults may share. However, medical experts say the vaccines have proven to be very safe. And to make that point, several well-known Americans like Mike Pence (61), Anthony Fauci (80), and Joe Biden (78), to name just a few, have publicly rolled up their sleeves for their first dose of the vaccine demonstrating confidence in the vaccine to safely protect them from becoming infected by the coronavirus.

Studies Show COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects Are Generally Mild

The main worry about the COVID-19 vaccine being safe for the elderly is side effects. Yet these have proven to be minimal. “The side effects have been mild to moderate and include arm soreness, fatigue, headache,” says Judith Beizer, a geriatric pharmacist and clinical professor at St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Queens, New York. In fact, a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine shows older adults reported fewer side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine than younger people.

“Generally, side effects occur at the time you receive a vaccine,” Beizer explains. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is administered in two doses three weeks apart. The Moderna vaccine, which is the vaccine scheduled to be given to residents and staff at The Classic, is administered in two doses four weeks apart. Getting two doses ensures the strongest immunity to the coronavirus. “With these vaccines, side effects occur after receiving the second dose,” Beizer says. “That’s why doctors tell people to plan for a lighter schedule on the day of the second dose or the day after the dose. It’s the same with shingles vaccine sometimes there are side effects with the second dose.”

People who have had a severe allergic reaction (called anaphylaxis) to any of the vaccines’ ingredients in the past shouldn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Doctors, nurses, medical assistants, and anyone who administers the vaccine is required to keep antidote medication close by in the event a serious reaction occurs.

The “Wait and See” Vaccine Approach

Some caregivers and their families also worry that not enough time was taken to study the new COVID-19 vaccines and have decided to take a wait-and-see approach before getting vaccinated. Unfortunately, the risks of contracting the coronavirus for older adults can be deadly. “While a lot of people are waiting for the trials to be continued over a longer period of time, it really isn’t necessary,” says Beizer.

There are good reasons to be confident about the vaccine safety. A large number of people were included in the coronavirus vaccine studies called trials and many participants were older adults. The Moderna trials involved about 30,000 people, of which 7,000 are age 65 or older. The Pfizer trials involved 44,000 people, and nearly 7,500 of them are 65 or older. Reactions to the vaccines were monitored closely for more than two months and continue to be monitored which is why the absence of serious side effects has been such exciting news.

Scientists who are not associated with the drug companies have checked the studies too. Results from the trials were carefully reviewed by the FDA and medical advisory boards to make sure they were correct. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the CDC also reviewed all the safety information before recommending the COVID-19 vaccines. These experts determined the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have been shown to be more than 94% effective in protecting people from becoming infected by the coronavirus, and countries all around the world are beginning vaccine programs for their elderly and health care workers. Both vaccines use the synthetic mRNA (a single-stranded RNA molecule that is complementary to one of the DNA strands of a gene) which triggers our bodies’ immune response to fight the protein found on the spikes of the virus.

Vaccine Safety for Older Adults with Health Conditions

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for elderly people who have other health conditions such as heart disease, asthma, or diabetes? So far, people with preexisting conditions have not experienced different or more severe reactions to the vaccine compared with people without other medical conditions.

“Nothing in the research shows that older adults who are weak are more susceptible to vaccine side effects than others,” says Beizer. “But as time goes on, and more and more people receive the vaccine, more information will become available and older adults are the people we want to be protecting.”

Before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, you or your older relative must tell the person giving the vaccine if you have any allergies, a fever, or bleeding disorders. The health care professional administering the vaccine should know if anyone has a compromised immune system, is receiving immunosuppressive therapy, or has already received another COVID-19 shot.


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Interim Considerations. “Preparing for the Potential Management of Anaphylaxis at COVID-19 Vaccination
  • Moderna – “Moderna Announces FDA Authorization of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine in U.S.”
  • Pfizer – “Pfizer and BioNTech Receive FDA Advisory Committee Vote Supporting Potential First Emergency Use Authorization for Vaccine to Combat COVID-19 in the U.S.”
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – “How CDC is Making COVID-19 Vaccine Recommendations”

Mom Was Doing OK in Assisted Living, But I’m Concerned She May Now Need Memory Care

Mom Was Doing OK in Assisted Living, But I’m Concerned She May Now Need Memory Care

When is the right time to move your parent from assisted living to memory care?

The answer is…it depends. Everyone experiences dementia differently. Some loved ones can fully and comfortably live out their diagnosis in an assisted living setting, even as they progress through the early stages of dementia. However, as the various stages of dementia progress, a better quality of life may necessitate moving your loved one from assisted living to a memory care community. That decision can be difficult, especially because you most likely must make this determination on behalf of your loved one. And…it may be even harder if he/she believes they’re doing just fine in assisted living. Transitioning to a memory care community can offer significant benefits and safety that often improves the quality of life for a loved one affected by dementia.

Memory care is a special variation of assisted living designed to provide a greater level of care for seniors living with some form of dementia. Since assisted living and memory care communities are similar, seniors transitioning from assisted living to memory care still have the benefit of a senior living community, such as numerous daily activities, 24-hour full-time staff members, meals, and assistance with activities of daily living. But the environment, care options, and lifestyle provided are carefully shaped to help seniors living with a memory loss disease, like Alzheimer’s. These aspects help seniors by reducing confusion, keeping them engaged, and encouraging a life filled with happy moments, all while remaining safe.

While the transition from assisted living to memory care can often be made smoothly in communities like The Classic that offer both assisted living and memory care, one of the most critical questions we hear from family members is: “When should I transition my loved one from assisted living to memory care?”

So…what are some signs that a move to memory care would be beneficial?

1 – Participation in Assisted Living Lifestyle

One of the early signs that memory care may be necessary is whether your loved one is still an active part of the assisted living community. Assisted living is designed to give seniors as much independence as possible, only stepping in to provide care services and support when a senior needs assistance. Restaurant-style dining and housekeeping, for example, remove the majority of constant physical strain from one’s lifestyle, while community and social activities provide ample opportunity to socialize and stay engaged.

We realize that some individuals by nature are essentially “homebodies” and rarely interact with other residents or participate in scheduled activities. However, if your loved one has previously been very participatory in the amenities offered in the assisted living setting and now resists or continually just “doesn’t feel like it,” you may want to more closely monitor the situation. Have you noticed your loved one stop participating in community events? Do they no longer take advantage of meals in the restaurant without prompting, or seem disinterested in activities? While not totally conclusive, these changes could be a result of their dementia simply making these things more challenging. Memory care could help them by providing a more guided experience that ensures they are still finding enjoyment, getting enough to eat, and remaining appropriately stimulated.

2 – Requiring Help Beyond Assisted Living Services

If you find that your loved one is requiring increasingly higher levels of care, or if they are always in need of familiar companionship, this is another sign that a transition to memory care may be approaching. Assisted living is a care option meant to allow friends and family respite from constant care yet giving them the freedom to visit and socialize whenever they can (outside of the current restrictions in place during the Covid-19 pandemic). However, families starting to find that assisted living does not provide the care needs or depth of support needed by a loved one due to dementia should consider memory care as the next step. Your loved one may begin calling more frequently, asking you to stay longer, or behaving more needy during your visits.

Memory care is designed to help seniors not only live comfortably but also experience their senior living in a more guided and supported way. This includes helping them avoid overstimulation and situations that they have come to find upsetting, helping them to feel supported and safe, and helping loved ones to keep visits more fun.

3 – Regular Confusion and Losing Track of Life Activities

Mental continuity is a serious concern when a loved one has dementia. While you may be used to your loved one be a little confused sometimes or forgetting a few things, these signs can develop into a growing lack of independence. If your loved one is confused often, to the point that they are having trouble keeping track of their personal affairs or community activities, then it may be time to consider moving from home care, or an assisted living community, to memory care.

Signs that dementia care may be necessary, include increased confusion, piles of unopened mail, inability to understand their current medications or health treatment plan, and regularly misplaced items. Extreme forgetfulness, like forgetting your visits or the friends they have made in the assisted living community, is also a sign that memory care might better support your loved one. Other signs may point in the direction of memory care.

4 – Maintaining Relationships with Seniors and Staff

As dementia progresses, a senior’s ability to maintain relationships also changes. They will need people around them who understand dementia and can provide a gentle form of company that does not demand consistent memory continuity. Most seniors in assisted living are not experiencing dementia and are not trained in supporting relationships with a dementia patient.

The nurses and staff in memory care understand dementia and help residents maintain relationships with both staff and other residents. Furthermore, memory care staff can help coach family and friends on how to communicate with their loved ones to produce happy and rewarding interactions. If your loved one is having difficulty maintaining relationships or seems to be withdrawing from their friends in assisted living, or even forgetting who their friends are, it may be time to make a transition to memory care.

5 – Confidence and Happiness

Finally, watch for signs of depression or decreasing confidence. A loved one that was once independently enjoying their assisted living community can become depressed, withdrawn, or lack their old confidence in making decisions. These are likely signs that they are suffering from increased dementia symptoms. Many seniors in this situation realize that they don’t remember what they should, feel overstimulated in social settings, or simply don’t remember their usual routines causing them to withdraw.

The most important factor is your loved one’s happiness and safety. If they are no longer happy or able to participate in assisted living socialization and activities, they may be more stimulated in memory care. Nurses, caregivers, and life enrichment staff can help residents in memory care to socialize, remember what matters to them, and guide them through an active and fulfilling daily schedule.

Is It the Right Time?

Is it the right time to move your loved one from assisted living to memory care? A little forgetfulness is normal with age. But if your loved one is regularly confused, depressed, or has stopped managing their life, even with the help of assisted living, it may be time to make the transition.

Memory care can provide significant improvements to your loved one’s experience with care tailored to both their physical needs. In memory care, your loved one can receive support in maintaining their memory, their relationships, and their active enjoyment of daily activities.

Before you choose, it is vital to take the time to explore a long-term care community and talk to staff to make sure your loved one will be happy in the memory care community you choose. Investigate the rooms, public areas, activity calendars, and how other families are enjoying their experience. Ask about how memory care is handled and what the community does to help seniors in memory care live enriching lives.

Please contact us at 715-839-0200 if you’d like to know more about how The Classic at Hillcrest Greens creates a supportive and enjoyable memory care experience!

Sibling Rivalry: Why Can’t We Agree on Our Elderly Parents’ Care Needs?

Sibling Rivalry: Why Can’t We Agree on Our Elderly Parents’ Care Needs?

“I want to scream…my sister just doesn’t get it! She flies in from Wyoming twice a year to check on our mom and wants to change just about everything that we have in place. She always acts and talks like she knows more than me, even though I am the one who cares for mom every day. It’s all just VERY frustrating!!”

If the above scenario sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. According to recent research, 43% of U.S. families have one sibling that has the responsibility for providing most or all the care for Mom or Dad. Some sibling problems need only minor guidance and mediation to get everyone on the same page. Others are more challenging and greatly interfere with providing the best care for a parent.

The stress of caring for parents can typically go in two different directions. One avenue can tear a family apart or, in a best-case situation, bring everyone closer. Unfortunately, if things go off the rails, and a family doesn’t get some form of outside help, it is often a major mess. The good news is that there are some practical steps and tools that can ease the stress on families that will in turn, decrease sibling conflict and problems.

Sibling Roles Resurface During Times of Stress

During times of immense stress and crisis, such as a parent’s hospitalization, it is not uncommon for adult siblings to fall back into the roles or patterns that existed during their childhoods. These roles can be in relation to other siblings, to their parents, or in the family as a whole. When all is going smoothly, roles may not interfere with communication and family functioning, but if a parent is ill or facing major change and decisions, sibling roles and old rivalries can flare up and interfere substantially with providing ideal care for a parent.

Some of the most common roles siblings assume in times of stress are:

The Boss – A sibling who always knows what’s best. It is common for this person to discredit all other family members’ experiences and knowledge.

The Avoider – A sibling that avoids involvement at all costs, for any multitude of reasons. Often the Avoider will say something like: “I just can’t bear to see mom or dad in this condition.” The Avoider likes to defer responsibility to others on a regular basis.

The Pauper – A sibling who is unable to visit the senior or assist in any way because of financial reasons. Often the Pauper avoids any type of assistance to an aging parent under the umbrella again of money concerns (can’t miss work, can’t afford a plane ticket, etc.) Obviously, this can be legitimate, but we are talking about siblings who are chronically lacking funds and use this an excuse not to help or participate in family matters ever!

The Whiner – A sibling who is unable to focus on parent’s needs or be a part of the care team because their own life is so hard, they are too busy or are ill themselves. This person often whines or complains so much during get-togethers or planning sessions that other siblings wish he/she hadn’t been a part of it all. Perhaps this actually part of the Whiner’s plan? Again, some complaints may be legitimate, but it’s chronic, problematic behavior that we are addressing here.

The Arguer – Often for no apparent reason, everything needs to be argued about with this sibling. It can be exhausting to involve the Arguer in any decision-making process. Often the Boss has a secondary role as the Arguer.

The Peacemaker – This sibling often gets overlooked and can have a hard time feeling “heard.” Often soft-spoken, the Peacemaker spends the majority of their time gluing all the family relationships back together again after disagreements. This individual often sacrifices their own needs and doesn’t share their feelings or opinions for fear of starting an argument or being criticized.

These are just a few of the most common roles that can interfere in a family’s cohesiveness. On the flip side, it is equally important for siblings to be open-minded about working together as adults. Sometime grown siblings are not the same people they were in their youths and may have preconceived ideas of how siblings are going to act in certain situations. Grown siblings can be pleasantly surprised to re-connect with a brother or sister to find they have grown out of an annoying role or behavior.

Emotions also play a huge part in a family’s ability to come together and help aging parents. During times of uncertainty and stress, adult children of an aging parent may experience the following emotions in a magnified way:

  • Anger, hostility
  • Fear
  • Sadness & grief
  • Denial
  • Guilt
  • Jealousy & resentment

When we realize a parent is getting older and we have begun the shift from care receiver to care provider, all these emotions may be experienced. Problems may begin however, when emotions are out of control, are used to manipulate or intimidate others, or are in general, interfering with caring for our parent or in communicating with siblings about sharing the workload.

Some Common Family Scenarios: Yes, These Occurrences Do Happen in Other Families as Well

Instead of automatically labeling our siblings by their behavior in the past, it is helpful to remember that family roles and positions may not always be changeable, equal, or fair. Even with the best intentions in mind families may have a hard time overcoming role patterns. Each family also has its own history, language, rules, expectations, definitions of what’s acceptable to talk about, and ways of communicating.

In addition to the roles that family members assume, certain factors or situations can make it challenging for siblings to all be on board regarding their parent’s care.

Perhaps some of the following examples may sound familiar?

  • The adult child living closest to the parent assumes the lead role in assisting with their parent(s) care and decision-making. This may be out of necessity, convenience, or parental expectation. The child who has the responsibility may not want to own it at all, but the other siblings think it makes sense due to the physical proximity of the child to the parents.
  • The oldest adult child assumes all the responsibility for caring of the parent(s). Similar to the situation above, this may not be the child’s desire and his or her role, intentions, and wishes may be misunderstood by fellow siblings. Parents may also assign a sibling who is not the eldest with this “power role” and again, individual interpretations along with long-standing emotions such as fear of favoritism, jealousy or resentment my increase and interfere with communication within the family.
  • The daughters or daughters-in-law in the family get “assigned” by fellow siblings to provide the hands on care including domestic assistance (shopping, escorting to appointments, housework, etc.). This may be culturally expected or a matter of convenience.
  • Siblings assuming that other siblings have more time to care for a parent and therefore are elected or pressured to do so.
  • A sibling who is financially challenged may move in with a parent(s) to “help” them and also alleviate their own financial burden. While this often is a great solution to family caregiving needs, the sibling who moves in may not be equipped or prepared for the responsibilities they now must handle.
  • Extended family gets overly involved in a senior’s care, often stepping in when the sons or daughters are not local or regularly involved. It can be a beautiful thing when family members, including extended members such as cousins, aunts and uncles, come together to form a support system for a senior. Other times it can cause a tremendous amount of resentment in the sons and daughters of a senior if they perceive that the extended family is “taking over,” or more commonly, fear that extended family is “after a senior’s money.”
  • Inheritance issues. Money does strange things to even the most loving of families. Siblings who feel parents are unequally distributing assets after they pass away may demonstrate their frustration and hurt feelings in a passive-aggressive manner by often avoiding direct conversation about their feelings, and instead creating obstacles and interference regarding family decisions. Any perception or feelings that another sibling is getting more than their share of an inheritance may interfere with parent-focused problem solving and communication goals. Inheritance issues can be extremely emotional and can tear a family apart. Inheritance decisions may not always be fair in the eyes of all. The bottom line is that adult children need to come to grips with the understanding that their parents are the ones distributing the inheritance, not their brothers or sisters. Clear and honest communication is key to not letting money interfere with a senior receiving the proper care.

While any of these situations may affect a family’s ability to come together and work as a team, it is important to keep the main goals of unification and open, with nonjudgmental communication in mind at all times. Any communications breakdowns can make a tough or stressful situation worse. So how does a family shift from “battleground communication” to a more team approach? Is it even possible? The short answer is, “yes!” Countless families have overcame role and pattern problems by making a few changes in how they work with each other.

Peace, Unity, and Strategic Focus vs. “Herding Cats” Mentality

It is important when having sibling conflicts or clashes about caring for parents that families stay focused on three primary goals:

Goal 1 – To keep parents safe, healthy, and as independent as possible while striving to maintain their dignity at all times.

Goal 2 – To come together as a team utilizing each person’s strengths and abilities so they can implement practical solutions.

Goal 3 – To be a united force when partnered with parents, not letting the stress of the situation and misunderstandings that occur from separating the family, but instead focus on bringing everyone closer together with shared goals.

Of course, these goals are ideal. In reality, it can feel like you are herding cats getting all your family on the same page! For families that are not only struggling with sibling participation and conflict, but also trying to determine the best senior care options for their parents, the following is a list of essentials that can make things easier.

  • First and foremost, hold a family meeting. (See next section for help on this tactic).
  • Get outside help. When families are locking horns with each other and cannot come to a productive decision or make a plan regarding their parents’ care, involving a neutral party can be very beneficial. A social worker, geriatric care manager or mediator, especially for family meetings can make a huge difference.
  • Get finances and legal papers/directives in order. It is essential that seniors have a power of attorney for finances as well as one for health that designate who will help make decisions should they not be able to make them for themselves. Advance directives, wills, trusts, and funeral plans should all be discussed ahead of need so that everyone knows the senior’s wishes and is on the same page. This discussion should also include practical discussions over finances and what parents will be able to afford for care in the future. Having no surprises regarding money and legalities will help things run smoother when parents become more dependent on others.
  • Make a family plan for care BEFORE your parents need help. Getting everyone to understand what their expected roles are going to be now, rather than when a crisis hits, will help things go so much smoother later on when your senior’s needs intensify. Who will be able and willing to provide day-to-day help and who will help manage finances are the biggest factors to consider. (Your senior’s plan can be as individualized and specific as your family wants and needs.)
  • When creating a plan of care for parents, think outside the box. Decide what is worth financially outsourcing, e.g. cleaning, shopping, errands, day care or home care. Even if certain siblings plan on providing the majority of the care for parents themselves, budget or come together financially and get some help occasionally to relieve the family caregiver. This will decrease chances for burnout and resentment, all of which equal better care for your mom or dad. When coming up with a support team for your parents, make sure to include family friends, extended family members, helpful neighbors, volunteers, and other sources. The bigger the support system, the less strain there will be on adult children and burnout chances will be greatly diminished.
  • When assisting a parent with a move, consider hiring a senior move manager. Certified move managers are angels with packing tape and are invaluable part of a care team. They can organize items, help parents “right size” (a more positive term and often more acceptable then “downsize”), coordinate with movers, and often can do a move in one day. Moving is incredibly hard for seniors and a move manager is money well spent. Please note that a move to senior living during the Covid-19 pandemic can alter some move-in plans. See
  • Look into options for family caregivers to get financial reimbursement for the caregiving assistance provided to parents. Long-Term Care insurance plans, certain VA benefits and other options may be available to lessen the financial blow of having to stop or cut down work to assist a parent.
  • Read up on family caregiver preparedness and join a family caregiver support group. Many of us are informally caring for our parents without knowing it. It can be gradual…doing their laundry and yard work, adding their shopping to yours, pre-dispensing their meds into daily/weekly planners, and going with them to medical visits. Before you know it, you’re a family caregiver. Get the support you need before the really heavy-duty care comes your way. You’ll be all the stronger for it.

Should We Hold a Family Meeting? If So, Where Do We Start?

Consider this staggering statistic: 46% of family caregivers in the U.S. who said their relationships with their siblings have deteriorated, blame unwillingness on the part of siblings to help care for their parents.

One of the best ways to avoid hurt feelings, blame and unequal distribution of responsibilities is to talk it out. While not always embraced, often others will agree to a family meeting or discussion if someone else organized it. Holding a family meeting may feel strangely formal at first but it does get easier with practice. It is an essential component to becoming and remaining a strong and organized support for your parent(s).

One really good tool available to check into before you call a meeting to order is the “50/50 Rule.” This free resource, provided by Home Instead Senior Care, discusses a myriad of common family conflicts and scenarios and how to handle them. The 50/50 Rule refers to an average age (50) of siblings when they need to start helping their parents at some level, as well as the amount of assistance to parents that siblings need to divvy up between themselves (50/50 ideally). Assuming you have read some resources like the 50/50 Rule and are ready to set up a family meeting, where do you start? Listed below is a short list of guidelines that may be of assistance.

Holding a Family Meeting 101

  • Send out a proposed meeting agenda and ask for feedback on what everyone feels needs to be talked about. This may feel formal for a family gathering but having an agenda in place will help keep the meeting from getting off topic.
  • Pick a time and place for the meeting that works for all needed parties and remember that siblings who are far away or can’t leave home for various reasons (particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic) can join through Skype, webcam, or conference call. Attempt to invite all siblings, especially for the initial meeting.
  • Involve your parents or the senior involved. If you decide to meet first then come together with your parent afterward with ideas, please know that this could leave your parents feeling powerless and resentful. Use extreme caution when excluding a parent from any planning meetings.
  • Start the meeting by setting a time limit and assign someone to take notes. The scribe ideally should send an email summary after the meeting to all involved in the care, not only as a reminder as to what was talked about, but to make sure no vital points were missed. It’s suggested that the first meeting be limited to an hour or less keep it short and to the point. Keep in mind that this may be very emotional and possibly stressful for the senior involved and shorter meetings, especially at first are best.
  • Have any pertinent information on hand for the meeting. Examples might be latest reports from physicians, brochures, and price lists from assisted living communities, etc.
  • As simple as it sounds, make sure EVERYONE gets time to be heard. Parents and all family members involved in care and decisions should be able to safely, and without criticism, share their biggest fears in relation to parent’s care, (i.e., “I’m cared to death dad will fall and no one will be around to hear him scream for help!” Everyone also should be able to share their ideal outcomes. This will give everyone, including your parents, a picture of what each family member worries about the most and offers a chance to hear other’s suggestions some that may be different than your own.
  • Be kind to each other. You are all attending the meeting for the same reason you love your parent/s and you want what’s best for them. The goal is to keep calm and stay focused on your parents’ needs.
  • Define what help is needed and determine in order of priority, what to start with. Not all of your parent’s issues need to be solved at the first meeting. Start with the most important topics such as safety, basic health needs, and getting legal items such as power of attorney forms in order.
  • Assign duties to siblings based on their strengths, expertise, and interests if at all possible. If one sibling is a CPA, and lives two hours away, it makes logical sense that he or she assist with financial issues, rather than with hands-on-care every day. This is ideal and we must also not assume, as mentioned earlier, that the closest sibling is the one that should be providing all the care. Working with everyone’s strengths and abilities makes for a strong team, a team where one person isn’t responsible for ALL the aspects of care, or isn’t trying manage things they have no interest or skills in.
  • Be direct when asking siblings for their help. Do not assume that others should know what needs to be done and you “shouldn’t have to ask.” Assuming does not work in marriages, when raising children, or when caring for aging parents.
  • Consider using some communication and family caregiver apps. This allows all siblings access to the latest information and provides a platform, often easier than email and text threads, on which to communicate and organize a loved one’s care.
  • Be open to the idea that even after a family meeting or two, the sibling roles may not be evenly distributed or entirely “fair.”
  • Have a mediator or care manager present if you know that historically family meetings are non-productive and end in arguments. This may only be needed for the first or second meetings. After that, you should have an idea on how to get the meeting going and running smoothly on your own.

Holiday Season Fun with Seniors: Planning Socially Distant Celebrations

Holiday Season Fun with Seniors: Planning Socially Distant Celebrations

The holiday season is usually defined by large family gatherings with lots of food, games, and social interaction. During the COVID-19 pandemic, how are families making adjustments to keep their senior loved ones safe while remaining engaged in the celebrations? With some creativity and careful planning, you can still make the holidays a special time with socially distant family activities, and even create some new traditions everyone can enjoy.

From virtual visits to holiday cards and crafts, here are several ways you and your family can make this year’s celebrations safe and fun for your senior loved ones.

Make Every Moment Special

Instead of defining the holidays by their specific days, try cherishing every detail of the season to bring cheer to your loved ones. Whether your senior loved one lives with you, a sibling, or in an assisted living community, there are dozens of ways to keep them engaged throughout the season.

Virtual Celebrations

If visits are not safe in any form, here are some virtual ideas that will be fun for everyone.

  • Encourage family and friends to decorate elaborate cards and send them throughout the season.
  • Hold virtual visits with Zoom, Facetime, or another application where you can record the kids making cookies, building gingerbread houses, decorating, or doing another holiday craft.
  • Better yet, if you can get your loved ones the supplies, hold a craft night where you all perform the steps together safely from your homes.
  • Watch a beloved holiday film virtually.
  • “Travel” together to museums, cities, and other far-off locations by taking advantage of the free virtual offerings available online.
  • Follow your local orchestra or church pages for information about virtual holiday concerts.
  • For family living in cooler climates, take advantage of snowfall by having them share snowman-building activities or sledding adventures.
  • Create virtual photo album threads using an application such Slack ( to keep everyone updated on holiday events.

Socially Distant Family Activities

For loved ones living in assisted living communities, a combination of virtual and socially distant family activities can keep seniors on a full and fun holiday schedule. Frequent virtual check-ins with updates on baking or decorating will help them feel engaged all season long.

Plan a large virtual gathering on the actual holidays where each family member can check in and share their meals, activities, and plans and create a real feeling of togetherness.

As a reminder, The Classic will be allowing Scheduled Inside Visits from December 11 through December 24. Please remember to make a reservation by calling 715-839-0200.

Reducing Loneliness for My Elderly Parents During the Holidays

Reducing Loneliness for My Elderly Parents During the Holidays

This holiday season will definitely look a lot different from previous years. With more seniors forced to celebrate the holidays alone, many adult children are perhaps going to be struggling with how to engage their loved one from afar.

Even in “non-pandemic” times, there can be a fair amount of pressure on people to enjoy themselves during the holidays. The season is supposed to be merry and bright, but many elders feel increasingly isolated and unhappy this time of year even under “normal” circumstances. Understandably, families are extra concerned about having to leave seniors alone for the holidays this year.

Seniors Can Often Experience Holiday Loneliness

While aging can bring wisdom and experience, there are inevitable losses that even the healthiest seniors face. Loved ones and friends fall ill and pass away. Energy and mobility levels often decrease, resulting in feelings of lost independence and opportunities. Neighborhoods change over time, leaving those well enough to remain in their own homes feeling lonely.

Living Alone During the Holidays Can Be Difficult

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), older adults who are socially isolated are at higher risk for depression. The focus on family, friends and togetherness during this time of year can actually bring melancholy feelings to the forefront for may elders. With coronavirus cases ramping up, it’s more important than ever to be supportive of and attentive to our loved ones, but in ways that that keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible. This difficult situation poses serious logistical and emotional challenges for families across the country.

If you believe your parent, spouse, friend, or neighbor may be feeling lonely, there are steps that you can take to help lift their spirits. You are probably busy with adapting your own holiday plans and traditions, but we must remind ourselves what the holiday season is truly about. Simplifying some things will allow you to focus on what really matters the important people in your life. Use these ideas to brighten up a loved one’s winter season.

Tips for Helping a Senior Deal with Holiday Loneliness

  • Make a point of actively listening when your loved one wants to talk, even if the discussion is negative. An honest and empathetic conversation can help them process what is bothering them, whether they are mourning a loss or coming to terms with new challenges in their life. It may also reveal why they are feeling down and inspire other ways of lifting their spirits.
  • Remind them how important they are as a part of your life, your family members’ lives, and these annual holiday celebrations. They may feel useless or burdensome if they cannot contribute to or fully participate in the festivities like they used to. Encourage them to do what they are capable of and be especially careful not to act like what you do for them is done out of a sense of duty. Show them they are loved.
  • If holiday cards and letters are an important tradition, consider going through them together. Over the years, these holiday greetings can often bring bad news and diminish in quantity. The last thing you want is for your loved one to hear more news about illness or death. If possible, ask family members and friends to contribute cards, photographs, or drawings to help keep the senior’s seasonal mail more upbeat. You may also want to help your parent write his or her own outgoing cards each year as well.
  • Help your loved one see that you are trying to simplify your holiday plans to focus on the real meaning of these celebrations. Let them know you are trying to ignore the increasing hype over the food, gifts, decorations and parties in order to focus on the people and values that you cherish. Remind them that they have taught you the importance of family and friendship and thank them for that.
  • If a senior is in a long-term care facility, check with the activities director and local schools or extracurricular programs to see if they can arrange for children to do virtual visits with performances for the residents. New activities and interactions with younger generations can be very uplifting for elders who are in physical or emotional pain. Visiting pet therapy is another source of entertainment and socialization that can bring joy to seniors who have been deprived of meaningful interactions over the course of the pandemic.
  • Check with your loved one’s religious organization to see if they can offer social and/or spiritual support. For example, the Stephen Ministry is a program offered by many Christian churches and provides one-on-one support to those who are having difficulties in life. Many churches can arrange for a congregant or leader to visit a senior in need, either in person or virtually. Just having someone to talk to can go a long way toward relieving depression.
  • Help them add festive touches to their home or room in the long-term care facility. Ensure that these items do not present a safety hazard and try to decorate in stages to prolong the fun and give them something to look forward to. Many seniors enjoy reflecting on past holidays as they unpack cherished decorations, so be sure to listen to their stories and ask about special pieces. If you can’t be there in person, at least phone or video call while they’re decking the halls. Some small, easy-to-use decorations in senior apartments include removable window clings, garland, and artificial wreaths or floral arrangements.
  • Cook traditional baked goods or treats with your loved one, if it is safe to get together in person. If they reside in an assisted living facility or nursing home, bring familiar treats that represent your holiday customs for your elder to enjoy and share with their friends. Try to make their dining table festive too, by offering to send themed décor, appropriate colors, and seasonal flavors.
  • Instead of traditional holiday parties, call your elder’s friends and/or family to see if they would be able to attend a virtual gathering. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be on a particular holiday. Realizing that the people they care about dialed in to spend time with them is priceless for an elder. If your loved one has dementia, consider keeping virtual get-togethers small so they don’t get confused. Technology can be disorienting and too may participants may cause them to become frustrated.
  • The most important thing you can do with a senior to make them feel loved and included this season is to simply spend time with them in a safe way. Look at family photos, watch home videos or holiday movies, listen to seasonal music, or do crafts together. For some families, these traditions may need to take place via FaceTime or Zoom or while both of you social distance and wear masks. Regardless of what you decide to do together, any time you can spare is a precious gift.
  • Coping With COVID-19 Concerns, Seniors and the Holidays

    Knowing how to juggle seniors and the holidays can be tough, especially as the coronavirus pandemic worsens. Do what you can to help your aging loved one feel involved and get into the holiday spirit without stressing yourself beyond your limits or risking anyone’s health. If you put too much on your plate, it is likely that neither you nor your loved one ones will enjoy the festivities nearly as much. Remember that most families are facing difficult decisions and holiday celebrations are bound to look very different this year. Get creative and remember that your best efforts are good enough.

Safety Without Isolation – Life at The Classic During COVID-19

Safety Without Isolation – Life at The Classic During COVID-19

The Classic is the safest place to be with protections in place to keep you safe!

Consider the following…

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Classic’s COVID-19 incidence rate is .012%! (based on total number of resident cases divided by total resident days). If you applied our incidence rate to Eau Claire County during the same period, (March thru November), there would be slightly over 3,100 cases vs. the current 8,000 cases now being reported).

It’s VERY important to note that The Classic has been able to offer a safe, healthy, and social environment, while still allowing for residents to be out and about in our community with daily access to numerous activities albeit with some modifications and restrictions.

Residents and Staff Health and Safety are #1 Priority

It seems like a week doesn’t go by without a national news story about how a nursing home or assisted living community has been affected by a COVID-19 outbreak. It’s only natural to react with hesitation if you’ve been considering a move to a senior living community when you retire. You may be asking yourself: Is senior living as safe as you originally thought?

While it’s true that there are nursing homes and assisted living facilities that have been impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks, that isn’t the whole story. In fact, many senior living communities across the country like The Classic have been very successful at keeping their residents and employees safe and healthy during this unprecedented time.

Health & Safety First

  • If you are continuing to live in your own home, it’s highly unlikely that’s it’s free of contamination with friends and family coming and going. At The Classic, we are observing the current COVID-19 guidelines that limit family visits to pre-scheduled times with designated visiting stations that permit social distancing.
  • We have safety measures in place that include frequent sanitization on frequently touched surfaces, daily temperature checks for residents and employees as well as personal protective equipment for all our employees when in contact with our residents.
  • All residents are required to wear a facemask at all times when outside his/her apartment.
  • We are continuing to evaluate our procedures on a daily basis to ensure that we are practicing safety and health standards set forth by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), and the Eau Claire City-County Health Department.

How The Classic is Working to Keep Residents from Contracting COVID-19

Safety has always been a top priority at The Classic. The pandemic has simply caused us to implement additional protocols and procedure to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of their residents, family members, and staff.

These safety measures and protocols include:

  • Closely following CDC, DHS, and City-County Health Department guidelines – As the country’s health protection agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the leading voice on COVID-19 and how senior living communities should approach keeping their residents and employees safe. At The Classic, we have continued to follow CDC guidelines, including mandating social distancing and mask wearing. We are also in constant communication with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) as well as the Eau Claire City-County Health Department in order to conform to any additional local guidelines that will help protect our residents and staff as much as possible. We continually communicate and remind our residents and resident’s families of the guidelines and any changes that may occur.
  • Visitor Restrictions – The Classic continues to be one of the safest places to reside due to visitor restrictions. Following CDC recommendations and aligning with the guidelines set forth by the City-County Health Department, non-essential visitors, e.g. family members are currently restricted to scheduled visits in common areas with visiting stations that allow for appropriate social distancing. All approved visitors are screened and must follow social distancing and sanitation guidelines to ensure the safety of everyone on our campus.
  • Appropriate Group Activities – Knowing how valuable socialization is, we have embraced a sense of community by offering numerous hallway activities while allowing for other small group activities that can observe appropriate social distancing guidelines. It’s very typical for residents to have access to an average of 10 activities or happenings each day.
  • Encouraging Residents to Limit Unnecessary Travel – As challenging as it is, one of the best ways The Classic has contained COVID-19 is by encouraging all residents to stay in their residences and only leave the community for medical and emergency situations. We continue to educate our residents regarding the risk of unnecessary appointments and trips. This message is communicated to our entire community including residents, their families, and our staff. We’re all in this together and want to do our part to protect The Classic community.
  • Enforcing Mask Wearing and Social Distancing – Research and science continues to show that mask wearing is a critical tool in fighting against the spread of COVID-19. At The Classic, we know how important it is to wear a mask and social distance. These tactics can dramatically increase our residents’ and staff members’ safety. While wearing a mask is not always comfortable, it’s a small thing you can do to protect you and your neighbor. All residents, staff, and approved visitors must wear a mask while at The Classic.
  • Managing COVID-19 Cases, if They Occur – No senior living community can predict when or where a COVID-19 case will appear. That’s why The Classic continues to adhere to safety guidelines, and monitor the health of all residents, staff, and any allowed on-site visitors. If a positive case of COVID-19 is reported at The Classic, we have measures and protocols in place that allow us to quickly and effectively communicate to our residents, family members, and staff the policies and procedures we’ll follow to prevent community spread. The health and well-being of our residents and staff is our top priority!

The Classic Puts Your Health and Safety First

There is nothing more important than living in a place that takes your health and safety just as seriously as you do. At The Classic, we have been proactive throughout this entire pandemic by following CDC guidelines, implementing protocols and measures designed to keep our entire community healthy and safe, and by communicating regular updates and pertinent protocol changes to residents, their families, and our staff.

Our residents and staff’s safety and overall quality of life is a top priority at The Classic. Like everyone, we too are anxious to get back to life as usual including our normal routine of events, trips, and celebrations. In the meantime, rest assured that a move to a senior living community like The Classic is safe and may even provide a better quality of life than what you’re currently experiencing during this pandemic.

The Classic offers a vibrant lifestyle that promotes health, safety, and peace of mind. To learn more about our community’s living options or to schedule a tour, call us today at 715-839-0200.

Is It a Good Idea to Move to Senior Living During a Pandemic?

Is It a Good Idea to Move to Senior Living During a Pandemic?

Is moving to a senior living right now a good idea for your senior loved one? Are you and your family ready to take on the needs of a caregiver on a full-time basis? Are you considering the move to assisted living for your loved one?

The following are some valid considerations that a move to senior living is still appropriate:

  • Preparedness security
  • Daily medical assessment for COVID-19 symptoms
  • 24/7 nursing and care staff available to respond to any sudden illness like COVID-19
  • Chef prepared meals with room service
  • Medication assistance
  • Laundry assistance

We all know a senior has a better chance to stay healthy and alert if their issues are assessed quickly and medical care is initiated in a timely manner. If your senior loved one is in desperate need of assistance, you may want to consider assisted living. In a home setting, care falls on you, as most likely the responsibility for buying groceries, cooking, administrating medicines, doing the laundry, and ensuring the environment is free from health and safety hazards.

The Classic is the safest place to be with protections in place to keep you safe!

  • It can be hard to guarantee a home that’s free of contamination with friends and family coming and going. At The Classic, we are observing the current COVID-19 guidelines that limit family visits to pre-scheduled times with designated visiting stations that permit social distancing.
  • We have safety measures in place that include frequent sanitization on frequently touched surfaces, daily temperature checks for residents and employees as well as personal protective equipment for all our employees when in contact with our residents.
  • All residents are required to wear a facemask at all times when outside his/her apartment.

We are continuing to evaluate our procedures on a daily basis to ensure that we are practicing safety and health standards set forth by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), and the Eau Claire City-County Health Department.

Do YOU have what it takes to take care of your loved one at home?

Ultimately, every family must weigh and balance the risks.

  • Can they give an older parent enough attention?
  • Do they have the emotional and physical stamina to take on a full-time caregiver role?
  • What does the parent want?

Schedule a tour at The Classic today!

Now is a better time than any to consider a move to senior living. The safety of our residents is of greatest importance, as we continue to navigate our way through the ongoing threat of the Coronavirus.

Understanding Why Your Loved One is Refusing Senior Living

Understanding Why Your Loved One is Refusing Senior Living

When your elderly parent refuses assisted living or other forms of senior living, it can be incredibly stressful for the rest of the family. While you may be very frustrated, think about the following for a moment: Your parents or in-laws grew up in a different time. Consider what senior care was like back in the 1940s and 50s, or further back during the Great Depression. It was a terrifying time, and your senior parents were living in it. These were your parents’ most impressionable and formative years.

Back then, “old folk’s homes” had a different reputation. They were a last-ditch effort for families who couldn’t afford to care for their senior family members. Given this mindset, it’s easy to see why so many seniors are terrified of the assisted living concept.

Reasons for Hesitation

What are some of the other primary reasons elderly parents refuse assisted living? And, what are some proper coping mechanisms for adult children? By helping you see assisted living from your parents’ point of view, you may be better equipped to better communicate with them while you seek out the well-being of an older person. There are also some very tangible tools to help you convince them to make the best choice for them, as individuals. Ultimately, helping your parents see assisted living in a more modern, healthy light will be beneficial to helping you convince them of a move.

Every person is different, so it’s not appropriate to lump all seniors together as the same. But…many seniors do have similar concerns:

  • They are unwilling to leave a home they know. Transitioning from a private home setting to an assisted living community can be a difficult life change. Understand that your parent’s vision and abilities are less than they used to be. So, the idea of living in a new environment is scary. They are also reluctant to leave behind meaningful possessions and items they value.
  • They like their routine. Your parent probably has a specific routine that they enjoy. They may have a hard time verbalizing it, but they have made social relationships with hairdressers, doctor’s office staff, or other folks at places of worship, for instance. They are reluctant to leave those social relationships.
  • Seniors are afraid to lose their independence. A significant concern among the elderly is a loss of independence if they move out of their home.
  • They are afraid to be alone. Seniors may fear losing connections with family. They may also be intimidated by the idea of living among a big group of strangers.
  • Finances might be a challenge. Even if your loved one truly likes the idea of assisted living, they may be concerned about funding. The last thing our elderly parents want to do is become a financial burden for their children.

Treat Your Elderly Parents Like Adults

As we age, we lose our physical abilities and our independence. It can be a real ego smash to rely on others for help with daily tasks like dressing, grocery shopping, or driving to doctor appointments.

As the child of an elderly parent, it can be all too easy to speak to them sharply, or as if they are a child. Their needs can pile up on us, particularly if you’re a member of the sandwich generation, who is busy with a family at home, a career, and an aging parent in the house too. Often, it can take a toll on your well-being and overall quality of life due to the stress of the parent needs and children’s needs.

Alzheimer’s and dementia patients also place a unique challenge on their families. If you’ve “senior-proofed” your home by removing area rugs, adding lighting, and putting away breakables, you’re already very much aware. We all want the best for our aging parents, but it can be hard to have the know-how and the overall means to accomplish everything that would be appropriate in a typical home care setting.

When you talk to your parents about assisted living options, be direct with them. Invite them over for dinner. Offer them a cup of coffee or tea, or an adult beverage (if their medications allow for the consumption of alcohol). Speak to them directly about finances, workloads, and the reality of your life while coping with this much on your plate.

  • It can be helpful if you have toured a facility already. You’ll be knowledgeable about the activities and staff and be able to speak honestly about the facility.

It isn’t appropriate to put your parents on a “guilt trip.” Be loving and kind, but also completely honest about your struggles. List for them the ways assisted living might improve their lifestyle.

  • 24/7 access to trained medical care professionals equipped for specific health problems that might arise
  • Quality food options so they won’t need to prepare meals
  • Assistance with daily tasks like bathing
  • Medication management
  • Peers and activities they’ll enjoy
  • Opportunities for work or handicrafts

But what if you’ve been down this road a few times already? Perhaps you’ve had these discussions before.

Try Changing Your Approach

If a dinner table discussion isn’t working out, try taking your parent on a tour of the assisted living community you’re interested in. Point out, in person, how nice the furniture is, how clean the carpets are, how much fun other seniors are having in a craft room or with a physical activity.

Your parent might recognize some friends or feel better when they see other seniors enjoying themselves in a quality assisted living community.

Offer Some Options

Sometimes a parent might refuse an assisted living community for personal reasons. These reasons are unique to each individual, but they may not like the staff they met, the exterior, or the paint on the walls. Your parent might not even be able to put into words why don’t like a place. They just don’t like it!

If you think this might be the case with your loved one, respect their opinion. Try offering them several brochures to review. Start with about three options (no need to overwhelm them) and ask them to pick one they’d like to visit in person. Tour that place and start a discussion.

  • Ask them what they do or don’t like about it.
  • Recognize your parent’s needs, fears, or concerns. Make sure they feel involved in the choice.
  • Be realistic with them. Explain that assisted living is the right decision, and you want them to be happy and healthy.
  • Stay calm and positive. If your parent gets upset, even nasty about the situation, take the lead with a positive attitude and a quiet voice.
  • End the conversation by letting them know that you’ll keep looking until you find the right place.

Take It Slow

Even if your aging parent approves of the idea, your relationship with them is the most important thing. There is never a need to have a family “break up” over the choice to move into an assisted living community. Give your loved one plenty of time to review brochures, tour facilities, and ask questions.

If your parent still refuses to choose an assisted living program, consider getting their doctor involved. Not matter what happens, our parents still think of us as their (adult) children. They look at us and remember our early years. Sometimes the advice of a respected medical professional with some letters after their name will show them that you’ve been right about a move all along.

What Do I Do When I Can’t Take Care of Dad Anymore?

What Do I Do When I Can’t Take Care of Dad Anymore?

It’s time for you to make the decision whether dad (or mom) has to move from his house to senior housing or a care facility. The decision has been a long time in making and is one of the hardest decisions you’ve ever had to make. The father you remember is energetic, quick-witted, in good health, and strong. However, the man standing in front of you is frail, not able to remember to match his socks, and seems unable to focus on simple tasks. You feel you just can’t take care of dad and can no longer meet his needs.

As you discuss the possible options and the final decision, dad tries desperately to convince you that he can manage on his own. He then asks if he can live with you. Neither are appropriate options. If this sounds like you, know that you’re not alone.

The following is some advice about making this kind of decision and how to live with it as a caregiver and daughter or son.

  • Involve your dad in the decision if at all possible. It will make it easier for him to adjust if he feels he had some control and input into his future. Remember…it’s his life.
  • Once a decision is made, make sure he has a schedule that is easy to follow including regular visits from family and friends (if he is not living with you).
  • Don’t feel you must visit every single day…a day or two off a week is essential for your own mental health and sanity.
  • Don’t forget him when celebrate the holidays or take family vacations. He’s still a member of your family.
  • Make sure he feels welcomed no matter where he is.
  • Make sure he is able to maintain a regular medication schedule and doesn’t miss a dose.
  • Confirm if he is still keeping his medical appointments (doctor, dentist, and optometrist, etc.). You may even want to take him to his appointments, so you know what’s going on firsthand.
  • You might want to have him get a psychological evaluation or talk with a therapist transitions can sometimes be hard.
  • Help your father bring easy care and easy-dress clothing when he moves.
  • Stay reachable by mobile phone and see if someone else will visit him when you can’t.
  • Get to know the staff and make sure they know you. It will be important as your dad continues to need care and support. Facility staff and doctors may be more willing to help if they know you personally.
  • Don’t feel guilty. You are making the best decision you can and only have your dad’s best interest in mind.
  • Take time for yourself – “me time.” Get a manicure or pedicure, go to the movies, have a glass of wine.
  • Remember to let yourself off the hook for the decision you had to make or help your dad make. You made the best decision you could. Your dad’s welfare is important.

Again, know that you are not alone with this decision-making process. This can be a natural part of life. When you feel you can’t take care of a parent any longer, remember that you are trying to do what is best for your dad and yourself at the same time, and that’s OK. It will take a little time to adjust, so try to be patient.