A client asked me that question not long ago. She phrased it this way: “Finding a good home for my 90-year-old mother is one of the most difficult things I’ve undertaken. What is the one thing I should avoid doing or saying during this process?”
I wasn’t used to giving advice to adult children. But I answered as best as I could.”You’re the customer. Remember that. And this is your mother you’re looking after. The position you’re in is most likely outside your comfort zone. So relax, and don’t worry about making a mistake.”
I could tell she didn’t like my answer. “But what behaviors should we avoid?”
Two things came to mind. This is what I said:
First, don’t hide anything in talking about your mother. Marketing people and administrators need to know as much as possible about her likes, dislikes, diagnoses, peculiarities, finances, etc. That way they can help you determine whether their services or community will be a good fit for your parent and your family.
Second, don’t choose in-home services, retirement or assisted living or an adult family home based on YOUR desires or preferences. Your parent may have other ideas, and it will be his or her home, not yours. Think back on your vacations growing up. Did your parents take you to a grand hotel? To a seaside resort? To a cabin in the woods? Or did you go camping? If your parent moves to a retirement or assisted living community, he or she will be on an extended vacation. Will she want the 20-foot ceilings and chandeliers? Will small and cozy feel better? If in doubt, ask your parent.
Good luck. And relax.