How do we find the right place when mom needs more care?
A three-part answer to this question was necessary. Part 1, “Why move?” and Part 2, “Finding the right community,” were addressed in past columns.
This week’s column focuses on Part 3: “Tips for downsizing and a successful moving day.”
As you do your research, be aware of subjective terms, “a cozy room” could mean a single bed and a dresser. Is a “charming view” one that overlooks a garden or a cow patch? A promised “just a short walk to the dining room” could be a difficult physical journey.
In my experiences, the term “apartment” is often a general term. Those unsure about moving want to hear impressive and desirable words. When my mother moved to a memory care facility, a friend commented on her “lovely room.” My mother adamantly defended her independence and dignity, saying, “You mean my apartment!”
Downsizing is an emotional and difficult task, so don’t expect to rush the process. Take the time required to relive wonderful memories while deciding what treasures and objects to keep. The value of one’s “stuff” is a very personal matter.
The caregiver should discreetly remove the “give away,” “throw away” and “clutter” items. However, allow your loved one to be included in making decisions and maintaining some control of the situation. Explaining how family members would enjoy and care for precious antiques or collectibles “until they are needed again” is a wonderful way to pass on family heirlooms while lessening the sense of loss.
Don’t trust the “I’m pretty sure that will fit” approach to moving furniture. By using graph paper and a tape measure in advance, it is possible for a small crew of friends to greet the movers, place furniture and unpack boxes quickly.
Meanwhile, treat your loved one and a friend to a fun-filled day away from the move. This plan will remove the stress and fears of moving day for them and give you time to put most things in their proper place. Tweaking can be done later. I’ve had to hide a few unpacked boxes in the shower so that when we exclaimed, “Welcome home!” my mother entered an amazing “apartment” filled with her memories, photographs and belongings. Allow your loved ones to have their first look around while sitting in the familiar comfort of their favorite chair.
The next few weeks of transitioning will be difficult, and your loved will need time to grieve and adjust.
Oops, I should have made this a four-part answer. My next column will address next steps for both caregivers and their loved ones.
Visit www.moment-making.com to learn more about caregiving and to submit your questions, challenges and successes. Karen Cochran Beaulieu, a resident of Sumter County, is the author of the book, “Moments that Matter, a roadmap for caregivers and their loved ones with memory loss.”