Things to Consider when Becoming Your Parents' Parent 4

Senior Care and managing the parent-child role reversal.

The holidays are a special time for families to be together, but sometimes the season can also bring unexpected challenges. It’s not uncommon for adult children to realize that their aging parents aren’t growing old quite as gracefully as they’d thought. Perhaps, a visit at Thanksgiving has you noticing that things aren’t quite as they should be. A month later at Christmas time, you notice there’s no improvement; in fact, things may have gotten worse. The house is a wreck. They’re not eating or dressing properly. They are socially disengaged. Lack of personal hygiene may even be a problem.

When confronted with these circumstances, what do you do and where do you turn?

Shannon Stevens of Somerby Franklin, an operator of upscale senior living communities throughout the Southeast, says knowledge is power. “When families get educated and realize just what Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care are, it alleviates the fear of the unknown.”

Independent Living is for seniors who are active, engaged and in good enough health that they can take care of themselves. Assisted Living is for seniors who need some assistance with one or more key activities of daily living like bathing, meal preparation, medication reminders, etc. And Memory Care is a dedicated community that provides a safe, secure and structured environment for seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

The old ‘nursing home’ environment doesn’t really exist anymore. “For many people, the picture in their minds is one of a clinical environment because they don’t understand what the options are and how things are so different from what they used to be,” says Stevens.

She adds, “We explain (to adult children) not what they’re losing, but what they are gaining. Many times these seniors don’t drive anymore, are isolated, not eating well and lonely. So we educate (their families) on what being in a community would mean for their parent and how much more engaged they can become and how much their well-being will be improved.

“It’s very unnatural to parent your parent. It’s not a natural progression in life. We don’t feel like we’re here to tell our parents what to do. We can think they’re much better than they really are.”

Somerby Franklin opens in the spring of 2017 at 870 Oak Meadow Dr. with 136 Independent Living apartments, 38 Assisted Living and 24 Memory Care residences. What sets Somerby apart from other senior living communities is that the Independent Living apartments have full kitchens and washer/dryers. There is a dedicated activity staff for all three living environments and both Assisted Living and Memory Care have around-the-clock nursing staff. Other amenities include a swimming pool, many dining options, housekeeping, theater room, salon and much more. It’s also a pet-friendly community so residents are free to bring their four-legged companions with them.

Somerby wants adult children with their own lives, families and careers to be able to remove their caregiver hat. Stevens says, “Families get to be families again. Daughters become daughters. Sons become sons. In a retirement community, they get the relationship back. Returning that quality of life is a win-win for the resident and the family. It creates a sense of peace.”

For more information, call 615.591.6500 or visit Somerby Franklin online at