How do I get my Mom to move?

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“How do I get my Mom to move?”

I get this question several times a week.  Last week at the Speaking to Seniors Forum it was clear that it was an issue on many peoples minds.  Here are a few of my thoughts and ideas on this topic, several of which were made more clear through my immersion project.

We are dealing with adults – We need to remind ourselves that our parents are adults.  Even though we think that moving to a different environment might be more suitable, safe and enjoyable we need to let adults make their own choices.

On the other hand, as an adult I am regularly going places and doing things that I don’t necessarily want to do, but I know they are the best thing for me . . . my best example would be working out at the gym.  I don’t want to go, but when I get there I am glad I went. Using this analogy — when it comes to elder care issues think about being a “personal trainer” for your loved ones!

Instead of trying to do this alone, I often recommend the services of a Geriatric Care Manager.

Celebrate the Memories – Many times the memories associated with our homes and the challenge of downsizing can paralyze us. I wrote about this with several postings, my favorite is the “crock pot chronicles”.  We need to celebrate and document our possessions to make it easier to make a transition and give us confidence that their memories and importance can be remembered and shared with future generations.

Make meaningful connections – Pretend that the community you are looking at is a college campus.  Your goal is to find other students that have similar interests and backgrounds to your mom.  Provide staff and management with as much information as possible such as birthplace, past and current hobbies and interests, jobs, places travelled, etc. Challenge them to introduce you to other students (residents) with similar interests.  This helps make the decision less about “real estate” and more about lifestyle.  Any community can have a nice lobby or granite countertops — but each community has a unique fingerprint that is unduplicated elsewhere — their student body.

Reach out to make connections with purpose – I had a conversation with a reader several months ago who said to me “mom was a college professor — she doesn’t think she will connect with the other residents”  In this situation we decided to reach out to the local high school and college and see if their theatre arts program would consider coming to the community for rehersals, etc.  Since her mom was a theatre arts professor, this enabled her see how there was value and purpose to making the move that she didn’t have living alone.

Get involved – If you can get involved with the community as a family, volunteer, get to know the staff your loved one will be the beneficiary.  Also help make it easier for others to connect with the parent — reach out to friends, clubs, etc.  Websites like  Lotsahelpinghands can be a great tool to help.

Think about the difference in simply dropping a child off at school versus getting involved with the PTA, getting to know the teachers, etc.  Having a location that is convenient to family members and the network is very important.

Put yourself in someone elses shoes – One of the reasons I have engaged in my immersion projects is because I saw a lot of adult children “dropping mom off” at senior communities.  One of my goals is to try and help people see how emotionally challenging this transition can be for all of us.  I am not suggesting that everyone needs to do an immersion project — you can use my story to make yourself more sensitive to the transition.

If you mom does make a move, see if you can organize a “slumber party” and spend the first night with her — I guarantee she will be grateful.

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