“I really like the third place on the list, it’s brand new and the gardens are gorgeous.” John was happy his parents had sent him the links of the various communities they had found on the online Alberta Seniors Housing Directory. Living in Ottawa, it was difficult to fly between provinces on his busy work schedule to do site tours. Being able to see pictures of some of the buildings, read descriptions, and take a quick glance at prices and services offered made it a little bit easier to offer some insight and advice to his folks.
“We were looking at the first one…it’s not as nice looking, but we like that they offer more healthcare supports…you know, for when we need them.” John didn’t like the sadness he was hearing in his mom’s voice. A month ago, when he was chatting to her about the possibility of moving, she was more enthusiastic. She had spoken about places with pools and yoga programs, and she was narrowing down choices based on proximities to bus routes and libraries. Now, she was looking at places she could stay in “if dad dies” or switch units when she “can’t remember anyone anymore.” Though those were both possibilities down the road, they were big ‘ifs,’ and John certainly didn’t want his parents giving up their active senior years ‘growing old’ somewhere. He wanted mom to be able to do what she loved, like gardening, or maybe take up something new like an art class. He wanted to see his dad hang out with friends in the evenings and have card nights and still enjoy the odd drink. His parents were getting older, and they were experiencing some new health concerns, but having a bit of support would help tremendously and they could still enjoy life at the same time.
“Look mom, I don’t want you and dad making any rash decisions. The places on this list are a starting point, but I think you are selling yourselves short. Long range planning is important for sure, but I want to make sure you are at a place where you could take a real cooking class if you wanted to, even if it was across the street at a recreation centre. I’d hate to see you plunked down at a table doing some silly baking activity with canned cookie dough as the weekly social activity….” John trailed off in frustration. He was sure people did enjoy those types of programs, but his mom wasn’t that person.
“Catherine is worried about our health. She wants us to move in somewhere where people can keep an eye on us. It’s not such a bad idea.” John sighed. “I’m sure dad just LOVED that idea. So basically Catherine wants you in a nursing home with a “Nurse Ratchet”? She realizes those places are reserved for people who have been assessed and need a high level of care right? Look at you and dad right now. You are living IN YOUR OWN HOME. With no support at all I might add. Other than forgetting a few things here and there, and some minor health concerns, you two are doing pretty well…you should be proud of that. You can get a bit of help to make it easier. Moving into a seniors community will help. But to be so worried about your health that you make choices based on that, and not the life you want to live is silly.” John didn’t know what more to say. He knew he was likely only confusing his mom even more.
Making these types of decisions is difficult. Especially when people have differing opinions and the advice you are receiving is so contradictory. Many seniors and their families navigate their choices on their own. Are there any places or resources you know of that could help Charlie & Hazel? Please share them below.