Parenting Your Aging Parents – living arrangements for aged aunt

Parenting Your Aging Parents – living arrangements for aged aunt – selecting a residential care facility for aged father

Francine Moskowitz

Dear Francine and Robert:

A few years ago, my aging mom and her sister, Gretchen, (both in their 80s) moved to an assisted living center near me. But Mom’s other sister, Betty, (also in her 80s) insisted on remaining in their home town, a few hundred miles away.

Since then, Aunt Betty has moved to a nursing home. She’s completely bedridden but mentally sharp as ever. The problem is that visiting her is out of the question for my mother and Aunt Gretchen. We have asked her many times, but Aunt Betty refuses to move up here.

I have been visiting Aunt Betty once every month or two, but it’s expensive and very difficult, and I hate to spend the time away from my responsibilities here, including my husband and children. I don’t know how much longer I can continue to visit her.

Am I being unfair, leaving her alone where she is?

Signed, Tired Trekker

Dear Tired Trekker:

You certainly have the right to keep your own life in balance. What you’ve done for Aunt Betty so far has been wonderful. But now it seems you’re running out of gas. Since visiting her on a regular basis is too demanding, you shouldn’t feel guilty about cutting back on these visits, or eliminating them entirely.

Since Aunt Betty is fully competent to make her own decisions, you don’t have the option of just moving her to a nursing home that’s closer to you and the rest of her family. All you can do is keep trying to change her mind.

One reason people in her position sometimes become stubborn is that saying “no” is about the only form of control they retain over daily life. But sometimes they have good reasons for saying “no.”

We suggest you conduct a conference call between Aunt Betty, Aunt Gretchen, your mom, and you. Be ready to discuss – probably at some length – Aunt Betty’s reasons for staying where she is. Maybe she has close friends there. Maybe she really likes the staff, or has made arrangements for them to give her special treats or privileges she feels she won’t receive in a different facility.

Whatever her reasons, she’s entitled to them. If you three can propose a new living arrangement for Aunt Betty that she’ll accept, fine. If not, simply make sure she understands that her present living location imposes extra difficulties on you, and that she should not expect your regular visits if she stays on there.

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Dear Francine and Robert:

After Mom passed away last year, Dad’s quality of life began to go downhill. We wanted him to remain independent for as long as possible, and he has. But during the last few weeks, we have recognized that he can no longer live on his own.

He has asked us to find him a residential care facility – assisted living or board and care – where he can get daily help without depending on one of his daughters to come rushing over to his house.

The problem is, we aren’t sure how to judge which places are good enough for our father.

Do you have any suggestions or checklists we can follow?

Signed, Looking Without Knowing

Dear Looking Without Knowing:

Selecting a residential care facility for your aging parent is not an exact science. In fact, you might have to move Dad from one to another once or twice before you find a facility that works out satisfactorily for him.

But by spending a little time and checking into the details of the place before he moves in, you stand a much better chance of selecting one that meets his needs in full.

As you consider and decide, get your father’s input as much as possible. Even if he’s physically incapacitated, he should try to visit the very short list of final possibilities. Also, everyone involved should regularly air their feelings about each location, and the move itself. This way, everyone will feel more involved and committed to your dad’s choice of facility.

To simplify and organize your evaluation process, carry a written list of questions on your visits to the facilities that meet your initial criteria for location, reputation, and cost.

Evaluate and rank them on such factors as:

[middle dot] The facility’s “physical plant” – how nice and well maintained are the building and grounds?

[middle dot] Its status regarding consumer complaints and inspection violations. These should be posted prominently somewhere in the facility, or at least available to you upon request.

[middle dot] Its license to operate, and the services it is and is not allowed to provide for your father;

[middle dot] The opinions of current residents about the facility and staff;

[middle dot] Your feelings about the administrator;

[middle dot] Your rights and obligations under the Admission Agreement.

You should also contact your County or State Department of Social Services to find out more about every facility on your short list.

Since you’ll probably find at least one or two “good” facilities that meet all your objective criteria, your choice may come down to intangible “look and feel” factors. Don’t hesitate to select one place over another on the basis of such issues as: the friendliness of the staff, the taste and appearance of the meals, the smell of the place, or the proximity of your father’s (proposed) room to a garden or some other amenity he will personally enjoy.

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(c) Copyright 2002 by Francine and Robert Moskowitz

Francine and Robert Moskowitz are the authors of “Parenting YoYour Aging Parents, How To Protect Their Quality of Life And Yours!” This 300 page hardcover book has been widely acclaimed as the classic work in the field since 1991. It is available at bookstores, or directly from Key Publications. The toll-free order line is 800 735 0015. The Web site is: a href= The cost is $21.95 plus $3.95 shipping and handling. If you wish, you can ask Francine and Robert Moskowitz your own question for this column by emailing them at: A HREF=” Question”

COPYRIGHT 2002 Key Publications

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group