We recently went to visit my 93 year old father-in-law in Idaho, where my husband’s family lives. Prior to our visit, one of my husband’s four siblings called to say that when we came into town, it was time for all of us to sit down with Dad and have “the talk”. Dad has been living on his own since his wife passed away twelve years ago and is still driving during the daylight hours. His health isn’t bad, but he has trouble hearing (and won’t consider hearing aids), arthritis that making it increasingly difficult for him to walk, deteriorating driving skills and is increasingly unable to deal with the small, but constant little annoyances that come with having to do your own upkeep of an aging home. We also weren’t clear on how well he was eating. None of us were sure how to broach the subject, but it felt like it was time for Dad to consider living in a retirement home.
We nervously set a “date” when we were all having dinner together at my husband’s sister’s home. One sibling was designated as the initial spokesperson, and by dinner time all us of were stressed to the max.
My sister-in-law was very composed when she brought up the subject and voiced our concern. She was careful not to sound like we were railroading him, but rather that we wanted him to know that we loved him and wanted to know his thoughts on how he was coping with living alone at this point in his life. Much to all of our surprise, he calmly agreed that it might be time to start looking at a retirement community. He even joked that perhaps he could get together a poker game there, as he had lost so many friends that it was hard to get enough players right now.
I know that we were lucky – other friends that I have spoken to have had similar situations that didn’t go nearly as well. Perhaps Dad just needed help in making that hard decision. He actually seemed relived afterwards.
What has been other’s experience after having “the talk”? Now that we’ve had it, what should our next move be? Should one of my husband’s siblings take him to visit a multitude of retirement homes or should they try to narrow it down to a couple? What do we do in the meantime about his driving and such? How do we handle the move itself? How do you decide what moves with him and what to do with the rest?
If you would like to share your own story, do so here.