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100 Tips for Nannies and Families

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Helping Aging Parents Transition to an Independent or Assisted Living Residence

Your elderly parents are in their golden years.  They no longer need their big house:  the two of them just rattle around inside its spacious walls.  Bedrooms sit empty, long unused since the “kids” became adults and had families of their own.  Utility bills are needlessly high as they are heating and cooling large amounts of unused space.  The maintenance of the home and yard is becoming a burden to them.  They may no longer be safe drivers.  They may even need in-home medical care or supervision.  It may be time for them to transition to an independent living or assisted living residence.  Here are a few tips to help make that transition as smooth as possible.

  • Assess your parents’ interest in this transition.
  • Assess your siblings’ support for this transition.
  • Engage in persuasive speech when appropriate . . . for example, if one of your siblings does not support the transition.
  • Research your parents’ needs.  Are your parents able to manage their own medications?  Do they get dizzy or pass out from time to time?  Do either of them suffer from dementia of any sort?  Can they drive safely?  Do they want to drive?  Can they prepare their own meals safely?  Do they want to prepare their own meals?
  • With or on behalf of your parents, research your parents’ financial resources.  How much money do they have saved for their remaining retirement years?  What is their current retirement income?  Do they have insurance that will cover any portion of the cost of their stay in an assisted living residence, if that is the facility that is needed?  Will they sell their existing home?  Will they sell their existing automobiles?  What savings will they realize by not having their home (i.e., no mortgage, maintenance costs, real estate taxes, home owner’s insurance, utility bills, lawn care costs, etc.)?  What savings will they realize by not having their own automobiles (i.e., no car payments, maintenance costs, vehicle taxes, automobile insurance, gas costs, etc.)?
  • With or on behalf of your parents, research the residences available to them.  Are they wanting to stay in their community or move to be closer to one or more of their “kids”?  Will their wants and needs be best served by an independent living residence or an assisted living residence?  What residences of that sort are available in the community of choice?  Among those, which are within their price range?  Among those, which are the nicest, based on a tour of the facility and meetings with staff?
  • Plan the transition.  How will your parents dispossess themselves of many of their assets in preparation for their move?  Have the “kids” come select what they would like to have?  Hold an auction or rummage sale?  What realtor will be chosen to list the home for sale?  What needs to be done to prepare the home for listing?  Will the automobiles be advertised for private sale or sold or given to “kids” or grandkids?  If your elderly parents are changing communities, new healthcare providers will need to be chosen, and medical records will need to be transferred.  You will need to ensure that your parents have a sufficient supply of their medications to see them through until their initial appointments with their new healthcare providers.  Will your parents hire a moving van and crew to move the assets that they will keep . . . or will family members pitch in and move them themselves?
  • Execute the plan, allowing for deviations from time to time as situations arise.
  • Minimize unnecessary changes and stressors throughout this transition.  This is not the ideal time for you to change jobs, redecorate your living room, etc.
  • Be supportive as your parents will likely grieve through this process.  This transition represents letting go of the home where they raised their family, embracing the fragility that comes with advancing years, saying goodbye to friends and neighbors, and coming to terms (at least in part) with aging and mortality.  You and your siblings too may grieve through this process similarly.  Support each other.  Love one another.  Forgive freely as tempers may flare as an expression of grief.  Additionally, the support of friends and extended family members is crucial.  The facility to which your parents are moving may offer the services of a counselor who can help you and your family cope with the transition at hand as well.
  • Seek buy-in from family members at every step throughout this process.  It may not be realistic to get 100% support from all family members on all decisions, but ensure that all family members at least feel heard and considered.

By following the tips above, you can help smooth your parents’ transition into an independent living or assisted living residence.

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