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I'm lucky - I really enjoy
my parents. They are in their 70's, and are fit, happy and healthy.
To me, it's not a chore at all to call them - as a matter of fact,
I look forward to it. We have lots to talk about. My dad is a
late-blooming technology geek, as I am as well - so we love talking
about all of the new gadgets coming out nowadays. My mom is a
chatterbox - in a good way - always full of good humor, and just
plain old humor. She's funny - so I always get a pleasant smile
on my face from talking to her. I'd say I chat with my parents
at least once a week - sometimes more. We e-mail like crazy. My
mom is always sending me news from home, or funny sites, and my
dad likes to forward me articles of interest, and just say hello.
At any rate, it is healthy, happy communication!
Many people aren't as
fortunate as I am. Sure, most kids of older parents love their
folks, but they find it a big chore to make the "weekly phone
call" to mom or dad . Often times, we are way too busy raising
our own children, working long weeks, fielding call after call
and e-mail after e-mail at our jobs, and then being over scheduled
on the weekends. It's understandable - and of course, time flies
when you are living life in the fast lane.
However, those calls to
mom and dad become more important as they get older - especially
as they eventually lose their life partner, and possibly their
health, independence and mental capacity.
After the move
into an assisted living home
Many children of aging
parents face the day when mom or dad go into an assisted living
facility or other long-term care environment. Nowadays, these
facilities can be spectacularly beautiful, with almost every amenity
imaginable. Mom and dad may develop new friendships, and may even
enjoy living in their new environment, as much as their lack of
self-sufficiency will allow them to. However, no matter which
facility they end up living in - it's not home. Nothing can replace
a home that mom and dad built and lived in for perhaps decades
- with the sights, sounds, smells and people they were once surrounded
The one, most important
lifeline, or "tether" that they have to the life they
left is communication from those they love, raised, and shared
a life with - their children! Communication keeps those memories
alive, and reassures mom and dad that they still have a circle
of support that will help minimize loneliness and feelings of
More than just a hello
more than periodic human connection with mom and dad - it's also
a way for you, the son or daughter to keep tabs on how mom and
dad are doing in their assisted living facility. If you're like
me, I know just from the tone of my mom's voice if she's happy,
sad, frustrated, tired, or irritated. My wife's the same way with
me - she can tell just from my body language
what state of mind I am in.
Hearing your mom or dad's
voice frequently offers you a window into their lives, and the
facility they live in. If mom or dad has a sudden change of tone
in your 'weekly call' - or sounds withdrawn or depressed - there
may be a problem at the facility - or even possible abuse happening.
Or, if you realize that mom is starting to become forgetful, or
doesn't remember to call, or what day it is, or names of her grandkids,
there may be mental health issue developing, or becoming worse.
Even better, if you can set up video chat, or skype (explained
below), you can "see" mom and dad, which will give you
better insights into their body language, and overall health through
their appearance and mannerisms. It's hard to hide injuries (emotional
or physical) from abuse if you can see mom and dad in person.
If the facility administrators
know that a resident has children who are actively involved with
their lives, and communicate with them frequently, they may receive
more, or better attention than another resident that doesn't have
children checking up on him or her. This is unfortunate, but it
is a reality in some cases - just as parents who frequently talk
to their children's teachers - their kids may get extra attention
There's no excuse
In just the last decade,
our possible means of communication has exploded to where it is
almost impossible to not be located at any point during the day.
There are a number of great ways that you can keep in touch with
mom and dad - thanks to this wonderfully technical world we live
in. Here are a few suggestions:
Phone Calls: This old standard
is still one of the best ways to check in with mom or dad. Many
assisted living facilities have private phone lines for each resident's
room. If not, most of them have a common phone that residents
can use. Some facilities will charge extra for phone service.
Others may include phone usage in their fee.
Cell Phones: If your mom or dad is not mentally impaired (Alzheimer's
or other memory problems) and can keep track of a cell phone,
this is a great way to offer mom or dad a great deal of freedom
when it comes to keeping in touch. There are some inexpensive
plans out there that may be cheaper than having a private Landline
in their room. If mom or dad is savvy enough, you could even use
it to text message! LOL!
E-mail: Most facilities have a common computer for residents,
and many facilities are set up to facilitate residents having
a computer in their room or apartment with Wireless Internet or
Cable connections. Check with your facility to see what they offer.
E-mail is a quick and easy way to say hello without a huge time
Video Chat: My parents and I have started video chatting! It's
pretty easy to set up if you have a video camera for your computer,
and someone around who is tech-savvy enough to set it up for you.
There are a number of free services that you can use - my parents
and I are using http://videomessages.live.com
- which was easy to set up...even for them!
- This is a newer service that allows you to call, video call
and instant message each other totally free. I know of several
people who use it to call all over the country - absolutely free
Is the facility tech-savvy?
If mom and dad are not
yet in a facility, and you or they are still in the research phases
- an important question for them will be "Do you have someone
on site that is tech-savvy?" Having a computer, or setting
up video chat can be more than the average person can handle,
so having an employee at the facility who can help to set these
things up, and to repair or maintain them will be important. Another
question would be to ask if the facility charges for tech services,
or if they have to outsource them. Some facilities even offer
computer courses to help their residents become tech wizards!
Have you checked
in with mom today?
What are you waiting for?
- by the staff at
Assisted Living Directory