This is the first in a series of posts about the need to move elderly parents out of their home, and how to go about doing that.
Update February 2019: Since this post was published, my parents did move into this community, into the Independent Living section. They absolutely loved everything about it and were so glad they made the decision to move there.
My dad passed away several months ago, so now my mom is there by herself. And, as hard as that is, she is so glad to be surrounded by friends, activities and good meals cooked for her. As a family, we are so happy that she is close to us and well provided for in a place that she loves.
Are you moving elderly parents out of their home? I am. Well, my family and I are working together to make this happen for my folks.
They’re moving into an independent living community in the town where they have lived for 46 years. I’ll share the journey with you, because you may be in a similar situation. It’s not easy or simple, but it can be accomplished with love, determination, lots of planning, communication and cooperation!
My parents have been married for 71 years, and they are now 91 and 96 years old. They have lived in their home since building it in 1972, so as of this writing it has been their residence for 46 years. They have created countless memories there, loved that place and talked about staying there together forever.
Theirs is a wonderful, romantic, epic story of love, faith and family. Many people have looked at them and said, “I want a marriage and a love like yours”. They have given so much to us, the family, and now we’re finding ourselves in a sort of role reversal, taking care of them and seeing to their needs.
I’ve learned some important things along the way and am going to share them with you, so hopefully your family can make the transition as smooth as it can be.
What I’ve Learned About Moving Elderly Parents Out of Their Home
FIRST, your parents have to come to this decision without being forced.
This is assuming that they are able to think clearly and are still somewhat mobile. They can care for themselves and their daily needs.
We (my brother, sister and I) have been talking with my folks about selling their home for several years. It’s large, sits on an acre of land, and carries with it the typical repair and maintenance issues that a 46 year old midwest home would have.
Until recently, they felt that with the help of their neighbors and friends, they could carry on until…well, until eternity, I guess. They weren’t really looking at things realistically, and I think they wanted so much to keep their life as it was, they were not willing to think about moving into a different type of residence.
“We’ll know when it’s time“, they said.
So we were patient, watching their health and overall ability to take care of themselves and their home. And of course, we saw changes occurring that caused us concern. Health issues were at the top of the list, and that is what prompted us to gather as a family and talk with them about the fact that it’s time…now.
We didn’t force them, but we talked as a family about our concerns, and how an independent living community would be a better, safer choice for them. And they agreed.
THE next decision is to find the right place for your parents to live.
There are different types of communities for the elderly.
Assisted Living facilities provide daily care to residents, where Independent Living facilities offer a safe, apartment style home with additional benefits like meals, housekeeping, social activities, religious services, etc. But the residents are able to take care of their own personal needs.
My folks were familiar with an independent living community in town, had visited a friend who had lived there for awhile, and they really liked the setting and location. That made the next step SO much easier for us. If at all possible, find a retirement community that is your parent’s choice, and affordable for them based on their financial position.
We reviewed all of the apartment options and monthly costs as a family, while also looking at my parent’s monthly retirement income. Any additional funds would have to come from the sale of their home, as that was their only asset.
My mom (of course, she was the decision maker when it came to the floor plan!) found a unit she liked. The monthly rent was workable, so that is the unit we targeted.
FINANCIAL considerations go hand in hand with the location and type of retirement living that will be best for your parents.
We considered their life expectancy (a tough thing to do but it has to factor into how long their funds would last), relative to how much they would need to use of their savings every month (the funds from the sale of the house). With their ages it was definitely realistic for them to move into the type and location that they wanted. What a relief!
We also conferred with their attorney, to make sure we were taking the appropriate steps, in the right order, to protect them financially. This is very important! Always get a legal opinion if you’re not sure what to do when it comes to your parents’ home and their assets.
As a family, we want them to be happy. And although they were in agreement with the decision to sell the house and move, it’s still a VERY BIG DECISION for my folks.
EACH step in the process of how to move your elderly parents out of their home requires a lot of patience, compassion, understanding, and repetition.
Then go have a drink 🙂
I love my parents to the moon and back. I would do anything for them. But it’s just a fact of life that at their age and considering the magnitude of the situation, we talk about it…a lot…many times over…often.
We have found that as my parents age, and are into their nineties, their ability to think, reason and make decisions is affected. They still have their mind and are ‘with it’, but they get flustered, frustrated and overwhelmed quite quickly. That’s where the patience factor comes in.
I tell myself that someday that may be me, with my children helping and advising me. How would I want to be treated?
Remember to keep your parents involved in the decision making process.
Unless they have diminished capacity (and that’s a whole different situation), it is still their life and their money. Be respectful of this, even though you may have to lead them to certain decisions. Ask them what they think, and how they feel.
They’re going to worry about things, particularly when changes are occurring. My folks have lived in the same house for 46 years, so changing the address is a BIG event. We’ve taken most of the burden off of their shoulders for that task, but to them it is a huge undertaking. Remember to see things from their perspective.
Next in the series on moving elderly parents out of their home: Selling the house and preparing to move
Have you been in a similar situation? How did your family handle the move? Do you have a question or comment? Let us know what you think!