Family Senior Care – Make Room for Grandma

So you’ve decided that your elderly mother is no longer safe living alone but you don’t want to place her in a nursing home. It seems the best solution is to move her in with you and your family. But how do you get your family on board with the idea and make room for Grandma?
Start by talking to your family. Explain that you understand and appreciate the sacrifices everyone will need to make. Remind them too, that Grandma is family. Use this situation as a way to demonstrate the importance of family taking care of family. This is important not just during fun times, but all the time. If you have children, explain how you made room in your home and your lives when they arrived in the family and now it’s time to do the same for Grandma.

Plan ahead. Decide ahead of time where Grandma will sleep. She should have her own room, even if this means your kids have to share a room. Both Grandma and the kids will be less uncomfortable sharing a room. While Grandma doesn’t need to take over the entire house, you should allocate space for her personal items. Use a shelf in the bathroom or hall closet for her personal items. Make sure the privacy of this space is respected. You may need to explain to younger children the importance of respecting privacy. Grandma is making a big change in her life and may not appreciate jokes or teasing about her personal bathroom items.

Bring along some of Grandma’s favorite things when she moves in. If she has special mementoes or a favorite lamp or chair, try to incorporate these items into your home. It’s important that she feels like a part of the family, and not just a visitor.

If Grandma has regular friends that she sees or activities she can enjoy, try to keep those connections. It’s important for a senior in this situation to have someone (other than you) to talk to about her new living arrangements. A big move can be traumatic for a senior and feeling isolated from friends and enjoyable activities can lead to depression and other emotional problems.

Remember that you don’t always need to be “one big happy family”. Recognize that everyone needs some alone time and it’s not necessary to spend every minute of your free time together. Invite Grandma to join family activities, but don’t feel guilty if she declines and opts for some quiet time in her room. Use these opportunities to enjoy the time with the rest of your family.

Don’t expect perfection. In every family there are problems and concerns. Having a multi-generational family under one room won’t be the exception. Talk about problems as they occur. Talking things our can help everyone. Your children will learn by your example and can grow to be kinder, more compassionate adults as a result.

February 26, 2011 in Senior Care

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