It’s a heartbreaking, difficult decision although you know it’s the best path forward for both your parents. When they have different health care needs, your parents’ living arrangements may have to change. This is particularly true when one parent is living with a progressively debilitating disease or dementia. At some point the parent who takes on the caregiving role can’t continue doing so.
Many senior couples want to stay together. At some point, it may not be feasible. If that’s the situation you’re facing, these tips can help you and your parents navigate the time they spend together while being apart.
Help Them Easily Keep in Touch
Being  able to get in contact with each other at any time of day or night can help ease some of the separation anxiety your parents might feel. Equip both parents with an easy-to-use phone, smartphone, or video calling-enabled device to help them stay in close contact. Some senior-friendly options include smartphones like the Jitterbug Smart, which is simple and has an easy to read display in addition to providing internet access, video streaming, games, and face-to-face chatting. Another idea is to give each a tablet, such as the Grandpad or Amazon Echo Show, both of which have texting and video chat capabilities. As a bonus, it’ll make it easy for you to keep in touch with both parents, too.
Arrange Rides to Encourage Regular Visits
If  the parent who’s staying home doesn’t drive much, step in to arrange rides to make it easier to visit the parent in assisted living. In all likelihood, the parent staying at home might want to visit every day or so. Before you decide to be the sole chauffeur, consider your own schedule and the amount of extra stress that might place on your shoulders. Talk to other family members and friends to see who can help out. Also, you can contact your local Department of Aging to research transportation resources for seniors.
Make a Schedule for Your Visits
As  a caregiver, you’re going to have to split your time between both parents. Sit down and talk with your parents and other family members to come up with a schedule that works for everyone. Ideally, each parent should have someone visiting him or her at regular intervals, and you should be able to split your time without feeling overwhelmed. Having people visiting parents routinely helps minimize feelings of isolation and loneliness, particularly for the parent staying home.
Get Your At-Home Parent Into a Self-Care Routine
Although  the parent in assisted living will have his or her needs carefully monitored and met, the parent staying home might need a little nudge to take time for himself or herself and to prioritize self-care. Adopting healthy eating habits is a huge part of self-care. If your parent doesn’t have the time or desire to get into the kitchen, this could be a great opportunity to jump in and go grocery shopping together and help with meal preparation. Other important ways seniors can take care of themselves is by getting regular exercise, prioritizing sleep, and making time for things they love, such as hobbies and other activities.
Adjusting to the new situation can be challenging for you and your parents. But if you keep the lines of communication open and remain gentle and kind, you’ll navigate the path forward together.