Viusiting Parents EmbassyMaking the decision to place your parent or parents in extended care can be tough. But once you've transitioned your parent to one of our assisted living or skilled nursing communities, a new issue surfaces: How often do I visit?

The truth is, there is no right answer. Each family's situation is different, but by working together, you and your parent can develop a system that works for everyone and preserves your family connection.

Consider the following tips as you work through this transition.

Tip #1: Take care of yourself
Many children feel tremendous guilt about placing their parents in assisted living. You may worry your mother or father will feel hurt, abandoned, or lonely. You may doubt the reasons for your decision and wonder if you could have handled their care yourself.

Take a deep breath, and think about your needs and their needs. You would be in no position to help and support your parent if you wore yourself out trying to manage their care. Consider the impact on your work, relationships, children, commitments, and hobbies. These aspects of your life are just as important as your parents' needs. Without balance, you could lose parts of your life, which in some cases could lead to resentment toward your parents.

Tip #2. What does your parent really want?
It may be a surprise, but after the discomfort of leaving their home and moving into a new and unfamiliar community wears off, your parent may be having a ball! Depending on their health and abilities, they'll likely make new friends, integrate into the social scene, enjoy alone time, go on trips, and more. Visiting too often might cramp their style!

Find balance by sitting down with your parent on a regular basis to discuss your visits. Be open to their feedback while also considering your own needs. If your parent is suffering from cognitive decline, or has diminished mental capacity, listen carefully to what they say, but also look at what they really need. Observe their behavior and look for clues. Keep in regular contact with the staff and use their perspective to help you plan your visits.

Tip #3. Will you have any regrets when they are gone?
This one truly depends on you. If you feel confident that you will be happy with the frequency of your visit, you are likely on the right track. If not, then consider increasing how often you visit while you still have time.