As your parents age, there’s a good chance that they would rather continue aging in their own home, rather than an assisted living facility or smaller condo. But this may not be a realistic option. For example, renovating their home to make it more accessible may not be affordable. What happens when your parents can no longer make it to the grocery store?
Talking to your elderly parents about moving closer to you or into a retirement community can be an awkward conversation. If your parents built or bought their current residence with the dream of it being a “forever home,” you may even get more pushback than you had imagined. However, for everyone’s sake, it is crucial that you open the lines of communication as soon as you start worrying about your parents. It is much easier to prevent a problem by making a change now than it is to resolve an issue after it has occurred. Keep reading to discover what you need to know about having “the talk” with your elderly parents.
You may be stuck in your current city due to a career, school zone or some other factor. You can’t move to your parents, but it isn’t safe for your aging parents to remain where they are. They can no longer make it up the stairs. They are a fall risk. They need help remembering to take their medications. According to a Joint Center for Housing Studies conducted at Harvard in 2015, nearly 70% of homes lived in by seniors aged 85 or older lack essential features that are necessary for them to live safely.
Preparing for The Talk
Nobody wants to feel like they have lost their autonomy. Don’t start by telling your parents what they “must” do. Depending on your family dynamic, your parents may not even want to hear anything contrary to their beliefs from their children.
To prepare for talking with your parents about moving, offer to help with tasks that may enlighten you about their living conditions or finances. For example, ask if you can supervise their kitchen remodel or help them pay bills. Once you have a clearer picture of your parents’ financial health, you are in a better position to discuss their living options in black and white.
How to open the conversation
As the adult child of aging parents, it can be extremely difficult to talk about moving. When you finally feel ready to have the talk, start by acknowledging your parents’ feelings about their home. Before you transition into the financial or physical challenges of keeping up their home, take some time to reminisce about your favorite memories. Go into the conversation with suggestions about how you can help to make things easier for them. This may include making small modifications to make their home over or taking over simple tasks so they can focus their attention on other things.
Home equity can buy a comfortable lifestyle.One of the talking points you may want to bring up is equity in the home if they have any. This is especially true if your parents have a paid off mortgage and live in a high-cost-of-living area. They may have significant equity built up in their home. Selling a home with considerable equity can provide seniors with the cash to move into an easier-to-manage condo or retirement community with plenty of amenities and services to make their lives safer and more enjoyable.
If your parents aren’t sold on the idea of moving into a retirement community, take them on a tour of a local one. They may find that they already have friends living in one. Do your research ahead of time and suggest a retirement community that offers activities your parents enjoy. For example, some senior living centers are within walking distance to restaurants and movie theaters or have shuttles with regular trips to a local golf course, theater, or history museum. One of the most compelling benefits about retirement communities is how easy it is to socialize, make new friends, learn and hone new skills, and discover new favorite hobbies.
They can move closer to you.In the past, community and family ties were what kept seniors aging in place. Today, it is more common for children and grandchildren to leave town. This distance can often create problems for adult children seeking to provide assistance to their aging parents. If you and your parents do not live in the same town, have them visit your home for holidays and family reunions.
Take them to nearby apartments and retirement homes. Also, sell your parents on the idea of local restaurants and activities without being pushy. Mention how much you love the local lake cuisine in your area that supports a catfish restaurant.
It may take a couple years, but there’s a good chance that your parents will eventually feel comfortable in your town. This is especially true If you are the only child with grandchildren, and you live in a safe, senior-friendly community. There is a decent chance that your parents may warm up to the idea of moving closer to you.
At least consider smart renovations.If your parents are not currently open to moving, ask how you can help them make their home safer and more livable. If you live far away, ask if they could benefit from home care to assist with anything from cooking and cleaning to bathing and bowel and bladder incontinence care. The sooner you make your parent’s home more accessible, the more money you will save in the long run by not having to pay for emergency repairs and renovations … or worse hospital bills and rehab services.
Hoarding strikes the elderly. Downsizing can make life infinitely easier to manage. However, if one or both of your parents suffer from elderly hoarding disorder, the prospect of moving can seem impossible. If you need professional help, be it a psychiatrist or therapist. Don’t be afraid to ask. Over 6% of seniors are hoarders and professional help is available.
The Talk is just a first step.
Your parents have poured dozens of years of sweat, money and love into your family home. They may even still be living in their hometown in the house that has been in the family for generations. Unfortunately, it is not always feasible for seniors to age in place. Before you have the talk with your parents, try to get a better understanding of their living conditions and financial health by offering to help with certain tasks.
When you’re ready to talk, start by acknowledging your parents’ feelings about their home and commiserate. Then, explain why you feel they would be safer and better cared for if they moved and take them on a tour of a local apartment, condo or retirement community. You can also familiarize them with your town and subtly sell them on the area. If you find you need help moving your parents out of their home, contact Operation Relo today to discover how we can help.
About Operation Relo
An Ohio based LLC founded in 2018, Operation Relo provides a comprehensive set of services for families with elders who may need to downsize, especially when the children are out of town. The company develops and executes elderhood plans addressing POA, medical, financial, executorial, and lifestyle coaching issues; preparing homes for sale with repairs and staging; relocating possessions through estate sales, storage, donations and disposal; clearing and cleaning the house; and conducting senior moves. Contact us at (877) 678 – RELO (7356), [email protected] and www.operationrelo.com