Corrine Simon* and her mom, Irene Wood*, always had a wonderful mother-daughter relationship. But as Simon got busier at work and Wood started needing help with daily living, things started to change.
Coping with Caregiving Challenges
Simon’s world started shrinking as her mom started needing help: Wake up, go to work, check in on Mom, run errands, go home, sleep, repeat. Then she started dealing with some health challenges of her own. Trying to get to her and her mom’s doctor appointments was taking its toll.
“I was unable to continue to provide the level of care that my mom required,” Simon says. “I found myself unable to be there every time she called or needed something.”
But she sure tried. Instead of getting together with friends, Simon would bring dinner over to her mom’s condo. Instead of going on vacation, Simon wouldn’t leave town for extended periods of time because she was worried about what could happen to Mom. And even though she was doing the best that she could, Simon still felt guilty when she couldn’t be there every time Wood called.
“I was exhausted all of the time and began to really felt myself burning out,” she says. “I was unable to really cope and needed to make a change.”
Exploring Assisted Living Options
“I went first and met with Karen [Walters-Zucco, Executive Director and Director of Marketing] and toured the community again with a different lens,” Simon says. “I asked all of my questions, of which I had numerous what, how, when, what happens if, and felt incredibly comfortable with all of the answers. I knew that my mom would feel very comfortable in that community — that it was a community that was representative of who my mom is.”
The next step was talking to her mom.
Having “The Talk”
Simon and her mom have always had an open and honest relationship, but “this was truly unchartered territory for me,” she says. At the same time, she knew she could not continue providing daily care for her mom.
Earlier in the week, an in-home paid caregiver had not shown up for her shift and left Wood stranded and alone with no one to assist her. Panicked, Wood had called her daughter at work and asked her to come care for her. Simon used this experience as her way into the conversation.
“I went over to see my mom in her condo and just began the conversation about her care needs and all of the problems and issues that she has had just in the past week,” Simon recalls. “Although the conversation was difficult, I feel it was easier because my mom only suffers from mild cognitive impairment. I was able to rationalize with my mom and really talk about all of the issues and how they would be taken care of at The Arbors.”
Simon talked about how her grandma had loved The Arbors, how her mom would love the activities — manicures, singalongs with preschoolers, coffee and trivia — and how they could go back to be mother and daughter again.
“I did the tour first for a reason,” Simon says. “Knowing my mom, who she is and what is important to her, I was able to ask all of those questions so that Mom was able to have those important pieces up front and center. It helped her immediately feel at ease and open to the process.”
Now it was Wood’s turn to tour The Arbors.
Seeing It for Herself
“I wanted her to be able to spend time at The Arbors so she could then actually see herself living there,” Simon says. “I needed her to see for herself how she felt about fitting into the milieu.”
In addition to exploring the community, Wood asked lots of questions. After touring and meeting with Walters-Zucco, Wood came to the same conclusion her daughter had a week before.
“She realized that she needed to be in assisted living and that trying to stay in her condo was just not feasible and certainly not a good quality of life for her.”
Talking to your aging parent about moving to an assisted living community isn’t easy, but like Wood, your parent will be happier in the long run if they’re involved in the decision-making process. For more tips about how to have “The Talk” with your parent, download our eBook Having “The Talk” With Your Parent: It’s Time for Assisted Living.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.