Moving Your Aging Parents: What You Need to Know

You may know that your parents are candidates for a retirement community of some kind - whether that's a place to rent in a senior living community, or some kind of assisted living. However, broaching the topic can be awkward and new to say the least: talking with your aging parents about how to handle their next stage of life is a prime example of role reversal!

Here are some possible scenarios which you should be on the lookout for as you help your aging parent navigate a move.

Help! My brother and I are not seeing eye to eye on Dad's needs!

In this case, history proves that it is best to trust the sibling who lives the closest to Mom or Dad. The one who lives closer, helping regularly with errands and visiting, has a much clearer idea of your parent's needs and how to adddress them. If resolving the matter based on distance doesn't help, you may want to consider other options. Would it be possible to divvy up the tasks involved with caring for your parent? Lack of good communication can also be the culprit for anxiety and conflict; is everyone being kept in the loop with an appropriate texting or email system?

Help! My parents do not think the cost is worthwhile!

First, empathize with your parents: it is natural to be worried about the cost of a new venture, whether it be investing in a new vehicle or a trip! However, when it comes to investing money in a place to live, there are a couple of things you can do to ensure your parent that it's worthwhile. First, consider compiling a spreadsheet of their current costs in the home they're living in: grocery shopping, a taxi service, meals, heat, yard care service... they may not realize that everything really adds up. Secondly, you can explore the community you're interested in to see the real benefits of a community with activities and amenities. Once they see what they're missing out on, they might be willing to see it as an investment. 

Help! The moment I mention moving, Mom gets a frantic look in her eye. 

Yes, moving is stressful, but it's almost certainly for a reason you may have only considered off-hand: moving almost invariably means downsizing. For an older adult who has accumulated a lifetime's worth of possessions invested with memories and value, the transition can seem devastating. We've written a couple of articles with downsizing tips for you on Using Emotional Intelligence to Declutter, and Perennial Downsizing. If viewed properly and handled well, the journey into a smaller space can be a time to mature. Your parent is relying on you to help them in this process, so be an advocate for how nice it is to live simply. Do not deny the memory-holding power of things and places, but help your parent to process this part of their journey.