Grandma’s Moving In
Transitional Tips for the Whole Family
Augusta mom Rochelle Forgay’s grandmother, Mary Ann Latone (aka NaNa Mimi), recently moved in with her family.
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You have the daily grind figured out—taking care of the children, getting to work, toting the kids from one activity to another after school or work, helping with homework, volunteering, making or providing a healthy dinner for the family, social outings and more. Then, your world changes drastically when your aging parent or grandparent moves in.
Regardless of the reason for the move, your familiar world has forever been altered. What are some ways to deal with this life change to make this transition easier for everyone?
Dr. Bernard Davidson, family psychologist at Georgia Health Sciences University says, “The developmental family theory states that one of the most difficult challenges for families is the entrance or exit of family members (births, deaths, divorces, adoptions, etc.) and normative versus non-normative life changes.”
Planned pregnancies and births are normative or expected, whereas a sudden death of a child or spouse could be described as non-normative or unexpected.
“As for the entrance of a grandparent, it can go either way—is it expected and planned for so you have had time to adjust, or is it something that is suddenly thrust upon us?” he says. Logic tells us planned family changes have a less stressful effect than sudden unexpected changes.
Preparing Your Family
In planning for an elderly parent or grandparent’s move into your home, there are some things you can do ahead of time to make it a little less trying.
“Preparation is key,” says Richard Wexler, president and CEO of GoldenHand LLC/Points of Life. “There needs to be a conversation with the family, i.e. the children, about the changes that will occur per the move.” There also needs to be a similar conversation with the grandparent to understand the family dynamics and how her move will affect that.
Dr. Davidson agrees and says that discussing what is going to happen before the grandparent moves in will help make the move a more normative one and, thus, less stressful.
Physically prepare your home for Grandma as well. “The number one thing is safety,” says Dianne Zweig, a retired psychotherapist in private practice and blog writer on this subject. “The house needs to be prepared to prevent fall risks,” she adds. This includes grip rails in the bathroom, clearing clutter on the floors, night lights and good lighting, stair railings, etc.
Rochelle Forgay of Augusta is in the process of moving her grandmother into her home after a recent fall. “As far as preparing our house and family, we are lucky to have a large home where we can turn a downstairs room into a bedroom so she will have her own space,” she says. “As far as preparing my family mentally, my kids and husband love NaNa Mimi!”