One of the most commonly asked question for those looking for a new home for their loved ones, is “When is it the right time”. My answer is never simple, this is not the same for everyone, as life provides us with many different turns, at different parts of our lives.
So at no point, will you ever hear me say, age is associated with a necessary move. It all has to do with whether they are just surviving, or thriving, in their current situation.
A move may be considered when a person experiences any or all of the following:
- Tired of doing the chores
- Missing the camaraderie of people.
- You start having your neighbours, family and friends over not to visit but to assist you with a little job. If you say “while you are here…..”
- You are lonely, depressed, and bored.
- You are sleeping a lot,
- Your fridge looks the same as it did in college; Condiments, bread, butter, and something in a jar you don’t recognize. Your appetite is dwindling.
- You don’t have a driver license anymore and your ability to get out to do the things you love is drastically impacted.
If you speak to most of the residents, they will tell you “I should have done this ages ago!”. Joanna often tells people that her husband made the decision for her to move into one of “those retirement residences”. It took her 2 months to realize that it was the best thing for her. She could engage in all that it had to offer as well as of all her regular activities. She has never looked back and she has flourished.
For those who are caregivers to someone, that has a physical and/or cognitive impairment, it is different. Does this sound familiar:
- You can’t remember the last time you had a full night sleep?
- Always on-guard for changes in condition and/or behaviour,
- You are Increasingly frustrated that life isn’t as it is supposed to be,
- You have resentment towards the other person for impacting your time, energy and finances;
- You feel guilt for wanting to have some time for yourself do to the things you love;
- You have a sense of guilt for even thinking of bringing in support, or even worse to live separately;
- You are stressed from having to do everything in the house, some of which you have no idea how to do.
- You are wondering if you are doing the right thing?
- You feel bad because they are sitting there bored and you are running around trying to do the things that have to be done.
When you live in the moment you can’t always see the forest for the trees. So many people say to me, I’m managing. That isn’t good enough and is not sustainable nor healthy for either parties.
Most often this conversation comes from a caregiver of someone that lives with dementia or a form of it. The person does not often recognize that life is changing and their abilities to “manage the household” is not what it once was. Now it has fallen on the caregiver. Because the person with dementia lacks the insight into the changes, they are often not in favour of a move. In their mind, life is good and all their necessities are being met. So they ask “Why would I want to leave? Why are you insisting that I have to move? It would make no sense to me.” Please understand you as a caregiver are NOT alone. These are your indicators that it is time to make a plan.
Here are some other signs, that it is time to move forward.
- Have your friends & family told you they are concerned for your health.
- You can’t sleep off the stress of the everyday routine and constant repetitive world you live in.
- You haven’t gone to any of your favourite activities in more than 6-8 weeks.
- Your partner is changing in their behavior and interests.
One of the suggestions, that I have been recommending to people, is to write down 5 to 10 points that outline breaking points to implement a move. (writing it makes it real, thinking it is just a thought) This allows you to provide your own limits of what a sane and clear thinking you would not want to do for a long period of time. The statements need to be measurable with the length of time that is acceptable to you. For example;
- If I say to myself, I am not comfortable in managing incontinence of the bowel for longer than 4 weeks, with no corrective measures available, it’s time to get support.
- If am not able to get a good night sleep for longer than 8 weeks, it’s time to get support and consider a move.
- If my partner is not able to be left alone for less than 4 hours, it’s time to get support and consider a move.
- If my partner will not leave my side or constantly calls for my name for assurance, even when I am going to the bathroom, it’s time to consider a move.
Not matter what your breaking point is or when, reflect back on the list every 6 months to help you see the changes in your situation, and allow yourself time to accept and plan for the future.
We as humans can adjust to change but at some point, it is no longer healthy and it is important to recognize and acknowledge your burn out point.
All I ask. is that you recognize, that life throws you curve balls, when you least expect them. Get a head start on it and know your options and have a plan. If an opening at a retirement residence becomes available ….STOP…LOOK BACK AT YOUR LIST AND COUNT HOW MANY OF THOSE STATEMENTS ARE CLOSE TO BEING REALITY, then move forward. You will have a happier more fulfilled life.