It’s probably one of the hardest decisions I have had to make - and my guess is others have had a tough time with this question, too.
Should I move my loved one closer to me so she can be at arms-length when a concern arises, or should I let mom stay where she is - where she has friends, familiarity and folks that care for her and love her?
No one ever wants to upset the delicate balance of independence and comfort that a loved one is experiencing living at home, or wherever home is considered.
At the same time, the decision to not move a parent close to other family members can present many challenges for sons and daughters who desire to be closer to their parents but also want to respect their wishes.
It’s not an easy decision by far, and it takes much consideration. Safety is always first and foremost when considering a move. Is my father safe in his present living situation? If not, what can be done to improve it?Things to consider are: medication management; access to emergency care; meal preparation and nutrition; completing the normal activities of daily living (ADL’s) – bathing, dressing, eating, walking, toileting and transferring from, say, a chair to a bed.
Obviously there are other considerations, such as safe driving habits, nearby friends that visit, social gatherings and outings, church affiliation, hometown familiarity and the “normal routine” of the day.
All of these things are turned upside down when a distant move of a loved one occurs. One has to ask his or herself, “Is it worth it?” Case and point: my mother recently had a health concern that demanded my attention and presence. She spent four days in the hospital and thankfully came home feeling better than she did going into St. Joe’s. No new medication was prescribed, only the addition of oxygen to help her breathe easier.
You can imagine the feeling one gets when they live almost 500 miles away from their loved one who is entering the hospital because she is having trouble breathing. You can’t get to Savannah fast enough, is all I can tell you.
This was the first time I wished I had moved my mom when my family moved to Florida, so I could be closer to her when needed.
But wait, there’s more. Upon entering the ER she was treated by a doctor who had previously seen her and knew her health history, as well as knew our family. The same can be said for one of the nurses and another staff member. Mom also had an associate and friend from her senior living community stay with her the whole time she was in the ER until I could arrive. When my mother returned home, she had friends and caregivers who have known her for years greet her and visit her to see how she was getting along. Would that have been the case if she had this same health concern living in Florida? Probably not. My heartfelt thanks go out to Dr. Mazur, Dr. Miller, her nurses (Heather and Sarah), and the entire staff at St. Joseph’s hospital. Also a big “thank you” to the wonderful and caring staff at The Suites At Station Exchange.
The decision to move a loved one should be carefully considered. It is true that nothing takes the place of family. But then again, family is in the eyes of the beholder, my friends!
Rich DeLong, formerly of Richmond Hill, is the North Florida Division Director for SRIM, a Senior Living Management company that serves the southeast United States.. Reach him at SeniorMomentsWithRich@ gmail.com.