More times than not, change is hard. “Unlocking new doors” is not always thrilling; sometimes it can be a little daunting. For those who are getting older in years, downsizing to a smaller house can be bittersweet, and moving to a retirement community can be uncomfortable at first. Another big change is the parent/children relationship, when the children begin to take care of the parents. I often see in my line of work how fragile this situation can be until both sides settle into their new roles.
However, the entire process can go smoothly, and the relationship and the change a blessing, if carried out correctly. It is a joy for me to see the bond between the parents and children become even deeper as they walk along the journey together. Here are some strategies I have learned that help the process:
- Come prepared. Since this can be such a touchy situation, do your research ahead of time with the options for the move: cost of living, level of care of the parents, and who will be paying. I also suggest that the siblings all get on the same page before broaching the subject to mom and dad.
- Allow time. If it’s possible, be patient with their decision. I always recommend broaching the subject, and then giving the parents time to consider “unlocking new doors”. The process goes smoothly if the parents come to the decision on their own, as well. If they feel in charge and less of a burden, many times I find they are more open to the idea.
- Location. It’s a great idea to learn ahead of time where healthcare will be in location to the new home. Pharmacies are also important. All of this information will help the parents and the siblings feel more comfortable with the entire move.
- Packing. One of the most tender, fragile, and bittersweet moments of the process is packing up belongings. The best advice I can give is to make sure the parents have a voice on what/where they want each piece to go. The siblings all need to be on the same page as well, and I can not emphasize enough that patience needs to be a huge quality of such a time. If the parents are suffering from memory loss, another good idea is to organize all the belongings, choose pieces that will bring comfort to the parents in their new home, and then have an estate sale for all the items left over that the siblings do not want.
- The big move. When the day arrives, I would suggest that the siblings are the ones to transfer the parents to their new home, if possible. It’s important to have a moving company that the siblings know/trust, and everything packed in sturdy boxes. If some of the siblings can stay overnight the first couple nights as well, this is always a good idea to help provide comfort, as well as help with the unpacking.
So many benefits can come from a new beginning for the elderly – better care and assistance, financial benefits, a safer home, closer to family, and much more. The bond between the parents and children can also become a lot deeper at the end of it all.