Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



In a Home Not My Own

Malkie Schulman

How does it feel to move out of your home-of-decades and into a single room in an assisted living facility or a child’s house?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

 Mishpacha image

The emotional toll of a move often depends on the circumstances surrounding it, and who’s ultimately calling the shots. If the aging parent made the decision to move, for instance, it’s usually a smoother process

T he “sandwich generation” gets a lot of press for juggling the care of young children and aging parents. What we rarely hear about is what it’s like to be in the senior’s shoes: How does it feel to move out of your home-of-decades and into a single room in an assisted living facility or a child’s house? What’s it like to switch from being head of the household to just another member of the family or elderly community? How do you feel when your children start calling the shots?

An honest look at this major transition

At age 80, Devorah held a high-powered accounting position in the city. “I worked all my life and nobody was asking me to retire. I felt fine — I even still wore my high heels,” Devorah shares. But when her husband passed away, Devorah’s life began to unravel. “I couldn’t concentrate. I began to experience scary physical symptoms like falling down frequently. At one point, I was convinced I was having a stroke.”

Devorah knew she couldn’t carry on the way she had before, so when her daughter asked her to live with her, she acquiesced. “I felt I had no choice,” she says. “My daughter is kind and caring and always tries to make me feel comfortable. But I live in a room upstairs with the rest of the family. I feel like I’m always underfoot. I try to visit my other daughter when it gets really bad. At least I have more privacy there.”

Much has been spoken about the difficulties that adult children experience when deciding to move their aging parents into their home or into an assisted-living facility. The extra financial burden, the time commitment required for medical appointments, juggling younger family and aging parents’ needs are just a few of the challenges. Often, in our justified concern for the adult child, the aging parent and their point of view and feelings about these changes are overlooked or sometimes dismissed entirely.

The move from a home with a history to an adult child’s house or assisted-living facility can be an emotionally wrenching process. “Having to say goodbye to four decades of friends and familiar places was distressing,” says Rachel, a soft-spoken widow in her 80s, who made the decision to move in with her daughter because she had no family near her out-of-town home. “No one was forcing me to leave, but it was getting harder physically for me to get about. I realized it was time to go.”

Even relatively straightforward aspects of the moving process can be painful, like deciding which of your belongings to keep and which to discard. Nate, an elderly widower whose wife died two years before he moved into an assisted-living facility, spent months agonizing over each item in his house. Should I take my wife’s favorite reading lamp with me even though I can’t read anymore? What about the set of encyclopedias that I got from my brother as a wedding present? “At the end, my children had to step in,” he says. “Otherwise I’d probably still be sorting through my things.”

 

Some seniors, even robustly mentally coherent ones, find it painful to admit that they’ll never be returning to their home of many years. Sarah, for example, who moved from a full life in her community to her child’s home a year ago, reports, “My husband’s stroke forced us to move, but we didn’t sell our house. All our furniture and our friends are waiting for us to return.”

Who’s Running the Show?

The emotional toll of a move often depends on the circumstances surrounding it, and who’s ultimately calling the shots. If the aging parent made the decision to move, for instance, it’s usually a smoother process. If the decision was made by the children, the parent might feel resentful or invalidated. “But in my experience, in most healthy relationships, those feelings calm down after a while,” says Lakewood social worker Chaya Levin, LCSW, who specializes in eldercare. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 576)

Related Stories

Change of Heart: Chapter 6

Leora Hammer

The diver’s reflex: Fill a basin with ice water and plunge your head in. It works every time! This w...

Tempo: Riding the Waves

Esther Teichtal

Ari followed her hand to the water. His jaw fell. He yanked off his sweatshirt, kicked off his shoes...

Musings: Why, Hashem, Why?

Devorie Kreiman

We can’t know why. We can know, for sure, that even as we are hurting, there is a True Judge.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you