At present, you may be living close to or with your parent. Maybe your parents need the extra care that you provide, and maybe other circumstances have created the current living situation.
Now that you are considering other living options for your parents, what can you do to ensure your parent has the same care you provide?
These are hard and tough decisions to make, and hopefully, our tips can clarify some things for you. Always keep in mind, though, that your parents should retain as much decision-making responsibility as possible. Don’t take over their future and remember they are part of this change. Sometimes they may be unable to make decisions, in which case you may need to do so on their behalf. But remember that, if at all possible, allow your parent to control their future.
Staying at Home – To Move or Not to Move?
Studies show that older people, when given a choice, prefer to remain in their own home, independent from their children. Attachment to a home or friends and family nearby and fear of change are often strong reasons not to move.
In some cases, your parent might be able to remain alone, perhaps with the help of a few friends and some outside assistance, and maintain the same style of living. Not moving, or successfully ageing in place takes a lot of planning. Seek out agencies that provide social stimulation, meal preparation, and light help around the house amongst the support services in your community to determine what options are available.
You may be particularly concerned about your parent’s eating habits. Some agencies provide meals door to door, with special care to meet your parent’s dietary requirements.
Community Living with Assisted Lifestyle Services
You and your parents may decide that it’s an appropriate time to consider moving to a more supported environment such as an independent living community. Reasons for moving are varied and sometimes difficult to identify, but may include:
- To be nearer to children or family.
- To avoid the burden and cost of maintaining a home
- The home may not meet present needs, physical or otherwise
- Assets may be tied up in the home, and cash is required or preferred
- Don’t drive and public transport is inadequate
- Looking for a new lifestyle
- Concerns for safety (for example, crime)
How do you know that it’s time to consider a change for your parents?
Try watching for the possible warning signs:
- Passive, negative responses such as, “I don’t go anywhere!” could be a sign of loneliness or depression.
- Lack of food in the refrigerator may signal difficulty driving or cooking or other physical limitations.
- A dusty home that was formerly very neat or the home not being cleaned on a regular basis.
- Personal hygiene changes
Helping Your Parents Move
You and your parent should decide together, whether to look for facilities in your parent’s current community or another location. Ask yourself if you are willing to visit regularly, or if it would be better for your parent to stay nearer the community in which they live, where friends and other relatives can visit more frequently than you can.
A good first step for an older parent is to move into an independent senior community. These are individual units where seniors can continue to live independently without the maintenance of a large home.
Some older seniors sell their homes to free up equity that can supplement income through interest. The move also frees seniors from home maintenance and grounds-keeper chores.
For others, living in a large community of seniors also affords a greater sense of security than living in a private home.
Identify the type of housing that best meets his or her needs, and visit several complexes.When evaluating the options, keep in mind the following questions:
- Is the unit affordable?
- What services are included? Some units may charge an all-inclusive rate, while others provide a menu of options or services available for an additional fee.
- Can the resident bring in furniture and other personal belongings? Personal items can help your parent feel more at home, familiar with the new surroundings, and may make the transition easier.
- Are there shops, churches and doctors in close proximity?
- Is public transportation available? Decide if your parent will give up the use of their car. If so, be sure there are other accessible alternatives to transportation.
- What are the staff’s qualifications? Look at their credentials and talk to the staff.
- Are the current residents satisfied? Talk to residents and find out if they are satisfied with the facilities. Find out what they like and dislike about the place.
Who Can Help?
Social workers and other geriatric professionals can help you and your family assess your parent’s abilities and needs.
As always, careful planning and honesty can make the decision to relocate or remain much easier and better for everyone involved.
Pay close attention to your parents’ feelings. If your parents feel uncomfortable, discuss their concerns openly. Remind them that moving to a senior’s community is not the beginning of the end. Rather, it’s an active step to prolong their ability to live independently as long as possible.