Senior Living

Time to head South? Maybe not.


What a relief not to have worried about Mom and Dad during the winter months; no slipping on ice, driving in snow, frozen pipes, furnace failures, or snow removal.  They enjoyed winter outdoor living down South without the weather-related complications that are the norm here in New England.

Living in two places has its benefits (and plenty of complications).

Mom and Dad have two of everything…including medical teams. It's a challenge to keep everything coordinated between their North and South teams: communication, testing, medications, refills, dosages, etc.  It's been manageable until now, but circumstances shifted this past summer.

Mom's medical situation is rapidly evolving and becoming more and more complicated.  Since they came home in May, she has been in the Emergency Room four times and hospitalized twice. Her overall stamina has decreased, and her symptoms and meds seem to be changing all the time.  It's not that there isn't good health care in Florida, but to change medical teams now (that took months to stabilize) feels precarious.  Mom needs consistent medical care and daily help.

And then there's Dad.

He is determined to go.  His golfing buddies are pressuring him to return.  They have a great network down South, although their friends are aging, too.  Some have had to "stay put" with family up North through the years.  Mom and Dad always said, "That won't happen to us."

The bottom line is that Mom and Dad are in two different places for the first time.  Mom is fragile.  Dad is healthy and wants to get back to his regular winter routine.  They are the same age and have both had minor issues.  Up until now, their daily lives and routines have not been impacted.

How can we make this work?

Mom wants Dad to go to Florida, but he says he won't go without her.  It feels like an impasse.  We must find a way to meet the needs/wants of each without sacrificing the well-being of either one.  It's not easy and maybe not possible, but it's worth some thought:

  • Can Mom go for two weeks and then return home?
  • Can the family accompany her to Florida?
  • Can we divide the time and provide some family coverage for her there?
  • If she isn't comfortable going, can Dad go down alone for a couple of weeks, and can we cover Mom at home?
  • Can we present to Dad that he goes, and if Mom changes her mind and feels up to it, she joins him for a week or two with support from the family?  

Reality check. 

It might be a time when Dad needs education about what's happening.  Maybe he's stuck in denial that Mom's issues are now limiting her ability and freedom to "get up and go."  Like The Conversation of “giving up driving,” “getting help at home,” or “relocation,” this is a difficult period and topic to wrestle with.  Whatever the subject, bringing your perspective to a loved one in your family, especially when they may not share your opinion, will, for sure, be difficult.  Coming to terms, however, is part of the deal. 

Sometimes, there isn't a perfect solution where both parties get exactly what they hoped for.  A healthcare professional who can help Dad understand Mom's "new normal" and its impact might be the reinforcement you need.  Through careful and thoughtful decision-making, you will find a compromise that best fits your family to support Dad's happiness and Mom's wellness.