As your parents get older, you may have had the discussion with them about how to handle their living situation. Though your parents may prefer to “age in place” in their own homes, you may be struggling with situations such as these:
- You’ve consistently found your mother’s pantry nearly empty, her bills unpaid, and her house a disheveled mess.
- Your father has called in a panic after driving to the store and forgetting how to get home.
- Your mother has neglected to take her daily medications, severely compromising her health.
- Your very independent father is struggling to get up and down the stairs in his home.
Given the situation, aging in place may not be a realistic option. However, the conversation of moving your loved ones is difficult, and deciding when it’s time to have the conversation is just as tough. Where should they live? When should they move? How much will it cost? There are many steps to follow when making critical and challenging decisions regarding relocating your parent.
First Step: Open Discussions
Open and honest discussions with your parents and other family members become an essential first step when trying to decide if moving your parents to a new living situation is the right thing to do.
These discussions may be challenging and emotional, with several topics requiring attention. Together, the family—including your parent—will need to discuss all possible residential options, the type of care required, and the finances, among other things.
Determining The Level of Care Needed
As your parent ages, his/her care needs will become more challenging. Consulting with a Geriatric Care Manager or social worker can be beneficial as you consider the options of what you will and will not be able to do for your parent. Then, determine which activities of daily living (such as eating, bathing, toileting) your parent can do independently, and understand that as time goes by, expect changes in your parent’s medical or cognitive condition.
Understanding Senior Living Arrangements and Housing Options
Moving your parent into your home is certainly one option, but you and your family should take some time to consider other living arrangements as well. The type of housing you choose will largely depend on three essential factors: your parents’ care needs, finances, and the service and support options available in the community. Related article: THINK YOU CAN’T AFFORD A PLACE FOR MOM? 5 OPTIONS TO LOOK INTO.
The following are different types of senior living arrangement options to consider.
• Living Independently: Most people would prefer to remain in their own homes if possible. And it can be given community resources such as meal delivery services, “friendly visitors,” housekeeping, transportation or other in-home assistance are available and provide enough support to an aging in place senior.
• Retirement Community: Independent retirement communities typically offer individual apartments in a multi-unit setting, and offer group meals, transportation, housekeeping services, and organized social and enrichment activities. As care needs increase, additional services often can be added for a fee.
• Residential Care Facility: These small group homes provide supervision, meals, and care for those who shouldn’t be alone but don’t require skilled nursing care. Residential care facilities do provide assistance with bathing, grooming, eating, using the restroom, and walking, as well as socialization and recreational activities.
• Assisted Living Facility: Those who are somewhat independent but require daily oversight alongside assistance with housekeeping, medication management, and personal care should consider this type of facility. Assisted living facilities offer rooms or apartment-style accommodations, as well as social activities, meals, and staff who are available to assist with care needs such as bathing, grooming, eating, or using the restroom. The care is arranged on an as needed basis as required by each resident.
• Intermediate Care Facility: This type of facility provides ’round-the-clock care for those who require help with bathing, grooming, and walking. Residents of these facilities are not able to live independently and require nursing care, however, the requirement is typically at a lower level than what is offered in skilled nursing facilities.
• Skilled Nursing Facility: Also called nursing homes, these facilities provide skilled nursing services 24 hours a day. Designed to provide high levels of personal and medical care, these facilities can take care of needs such as administration of injections, monitoring of blood pressure, managing ventilators, and intravenous feedings. Those living in skilled nursing facilities usually require help with the majority of their self-care needs.
• Continuing Care Retirement Communities: Also called “Life Care”, these communities offer independent, assisted, and skilled nursing facilities in one location. In this case, if a person’s health deteriorates, a disruptive move to a new community is not necessary.
• Veteran’s Communities: Specifically for veterans and their spouses, these communities offer multiple levels of care. From independent living with supportive health and social services to skilled nursing facilities, these communities allow veterans of several life stages to live in the same community.
Moving a Parent in with You
If you and your parent decide the best place for them is with you in your home, it’s important to understand that living with a parent most likely will lead to a shift in family roles. Your parent(s) will likely become more dependent on you. You may become the care taker and the guardian, and you’ll likely give direction and control many aspects of your parent’s life while trying to preserve as much autonomy as possible.
Additionally, given the very different lifestyles you and your parents keep: sleeping cycles, eating patterns/preferences, social calendars, interests, and daily activities, adjustments will be required to guarantee a smooth transition.
If your parents are moving into your current home, physical living arrangements must be adequate. There must be enough room for them as well as a layout that is adaptable to an older adult who may have mobility or vision problems. Some families may even consider adding an addition to their home. If you determine your home isn’t quite right for an elderly adult to move into, home health agencies and/or agencies on aging may be able to do a home assessment and recommend home modifications that are recommended to better assist your parent.
Making Financial Arrangements
If you are caring for a parent, it will eventually become necessary for you to become involved in his/her finances, including paying bills, monitoring accounts, and managing retirement accounts or investments. Understanding and making arrangements for the following may help with managing future finances.
How much, if any, financial responsibility will your parent contribute towards their living expenses. Will they pay for rent, groceries, and/or other costs? Preparing a formal legal document called a Personal Care Agreement (outlining any payment to you from your parent for accommodations or your caregiving services) can alleviate any future issues regarding finance disagreements. Additionally, you’ll want to be sure legal documents such as Durable Power of Attorney, Representative Payee, and Advanced Directives are in place.
Managing the Move
Leaving one’s home represents a decrease in independence and signals a new life stage. As your parent has most likely lived in his or her current home for many years and has developed strong ties to the community, friends, healthcare providers, social life, and daily routine, moving will feel incredibly overwhelming. On top of that, packing and moving out of a house is a significant chore for anybody, especially an older adult who has a lifetime’s worth of memories and possessions. But there are some resources to help.
There are specialized companies (us included) that will help organize and arrange a senior’s move while making sure legal documents are in place. Regardless of these helpful services, in most families the adult children still play key roles in this task.
In any situation, open communication will help ease the way through these challenges, while an understanding that your parent will need time to adjust to his/her new living environment will ensure a successful transition. Through the whole process, your patience and support will help make this transition smoother.
About Senior Living Service Group
Senior Living Service Group is a team of Eastern, MA elder care experts who have witnessed time and time again the painful process of referring a client and or their family to multiple professionals in order to access the resources needed to manage a move or sale of a home they love.
Given the sometimes delicate nature of what we do, compassion is at the heart of everything we do. We understand the roller coaster of emotions that a family is likely to experience, as well as the urgency with which, at times, you must act.
Our highly skilled and experienced team blends the art of caring with the science of their expertise in their individual fields.
Some of the services we provide include:
- Real Estate Buying and Selling
- Clean-Outs/ Professional Organizing
- Packing and Moving
- Antique Appraisals
- Estate Sales
- Family Mediation
- Legal Services
- Financial Services