The Importance of Calling Mom and Dad

The Importance of Calling Mom and Dad
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Summary: Calling mom and dad, especially if they live in an assisted living facility can be much more than a "hello." It can provide an important window into their health and happiness.

Written By: Founder/Editor for Assisted Living Directory

Mom and Dad

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 Mom and Dadgeek, 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 by.

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 abandonment.

More than just a hello

Communication provides 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 in class.

    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 commitment.
  • 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 - which was easy to set up...even for them!
  • Skype - 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 of charge!
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

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