Posted: August 24, 2020
If your family is like many others, you may have moved away from your hometown after college, perhaps settling hundreds of miles away from your parents. In other families, parents relocate to a warmer climate when they retire. But as parents age, it might become necessary to consider moving them to senior living community that is closer to where you live.
When elderly loved ones begin to struggle with the responsibilities of day-to-day living, it can be a challenge to determine what might be best for everyone. Even if parents don’t live hundreds of miles away, if a relative cannot easily see them at least once a week to ensure their safety, it might as well be a million miles away. This is especially true if your family member is living with dementia.
The first thing to consider is the concept of ADLs (activities of daily living) developed by Dr. Sidney Katz. These are indicators that show a human’s ability to live independently. They include:
Scoring is either zero points if the activity can’t be performed or one point if it can. The higher the score, the more likely the person is able to live independently.
The plan to relocate aging loved ones who may no longer be safe on their own starts with a difficult conversation. The conversation itself is not only tough, but so is knowing when to have it.
Before you sit down to speak with your parents, make sure you do your homework.
This is a challenging conversation. It’s important to respect and honor your parents and invite their collaboration. Having these conversations over a period of time will give them a sense of control an peace of mind about their future.
It’s important to have a strategy in place depending on the level of care your parents need. It’s also crucial to consider their financial situation in receiving the care they need. Costs vary by the level of care (Assisted Living, Memory Support, Independent Living) as well as what is included. Typically, there is a base rate, which includes some meals, activities, programming and utilities. There may be charges for additional support services, like additional nursing care.
Consider consulting with a geriatric care manager or social worker as you consider your options and what you can and cannot do for your parents. For example, you’ll need to consider whether they are taking their medications properly and whether they are eating properly. Has their mobility decreased? Is their overall health worsening? Are they becoming lonely or reclusive?
Other items to think about include:
Be sure to include them as part of the decision-making process.
Since many parents will be moving from a home to a smaller place, downsizing is crucial. Talk to your parents as early as possible about developing a plan for downsizing and be sure to treat them like adults. Treat their possessions with respect. Even items that don’t have a lot of monetary value may be difficult for them to let go of because of emotional ties.
Once the move is planned, set up a schedule for packing but be prepared to move slowly. Putting pressure on your parents to let go of items will likely be counterproductive. Get as much of the family involved as possible and find a home for items that may have sentimental value whenever possible.
For seniors moving new to spaces, recreating the feel of the home they left behind can ease the transition. Help them decorate with cherished items. Consider digitizing photos on an electronic device that doesn’t take up much space but keeps these heirlooms accessible.
If possible, spend time with them in their new place. There may be local health department restrictions for visiting loved ones in a senior living community, but virtual visits and outdoor visits are good options.
Read about what life is like at a senior living community during COVID-19 from a resident of Heritage Crossing here.