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.