Moving elderly parents when they don’t want to
Moving isn’t fun, change can be difficult, and home is … well, it’s home. The best time to have the conversation with aging parents is before a crisis happens.
We’ve got some tips that might make the conversation easier.
How to start the conversation about senior living
Sometimes talking to your parents about community living starts with a simple question like, “What are your biggest daily struggles?” Ask them how you can help.
Most of us don’t respond well when someone starts a tough conversation by saying, “You need to …” or “You should ….” As you approach the idea of senior living with your parents, remember that they still see themselves as your parent; you are their child, no matter how old you are.
While you may be able to continue discussing options from there, you may also want to leave the initial conversation at that. Unless there is an immediate need or you are concerned that your parents are not safe, you might want to take a slower approach to moving them from their house into a senior living community.
How to take the conversation to the next step
Ask your parents if they’ve thought about selling their home and using the equity to move into a place that might be more comfortable and lower maintenance.
Would they mind if you look at home estimates on websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com? Put together a list of home-related expenses such as utilities, property taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs; compare that list with the cost of senior living, which covers all those expenses and more. It’s hard to argue with data; if you can show your parents that selling their home and moving into a full-service senior living community will, ultimately, save them money, that may help ease their anxieties.
You might also gather estimates for renovations to their owned home, such as installing:
- Non-skid flooring and removing slippery rugs
- Grab bars in bathrooms
- Medical alert or security alarms
- Outside ramps, if stairs become difficult to navigate
- Handrails along stairs, hallways
- Motion-activated, bright lighting in hallways, closets and stairwells
- Wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers
- Stair climbers
- Walk-in bathtub/non-slip shower
- Security cameras
Get professional advice for your parents
If your parents are in any danger of falling or if you have serious concerns about their abilities to care for themselves or each other, you might enlist the help of third-party professionals.
An accountant or financial advisor can help them understand the costs and expenses associated with aging in place versus selling their home and using the equity to enjoy the rest of their lives in a senior living community.
Your parents’ healthcare professionals might be able to talk to your parents about their long-term needs and what to expect if they have medical conditions that may come with mobility or memory issues. Your parents may be more open to hearing about their options from professionals.
If you have friends whose parents have sold their homes and moved to senior living communities, invite them to share their stories. Ask if you and your parents can visit them. Sometimes hearing someone else’s story about making such a big change so late in life can be comforting.
Schedule tours of senior living communities
Sometimes, persuading your parents that moving into a senior lifestyle community is as simple as visiting a community in your area. These visits will allow you and your loved one to explore the many options that are available.
Schedule tours at several communities. Arrange to go during active times, such as meals or when there is a social event. Some senior communities will allow potential residents to join meals and mingle with other residents.
Go to each tour with a list of questions and a checklist of features to evaluate. Talk to the community’s staff about costs and what the living fees include. Your parents may be pleasantly surprised at all the amenities and perks that come with senior living.
Create an aging plan with your parents
If, after all the facts, conversations, and professional advice, your parents still refuse to sell the house and move, then tell them you want to make an aging plan so that when and if something does happen, and they need care, you’ve got a plan in place.
The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) suggests a five-point strategy for an aging plan:
- Get a medical alert system. Look for a system that has a fall alert sensor. You might also explore options with smart speakers from Amazon Echo, Apple Homepod and Google Home. These devices have apps that can help seniors with things like medication reminders, daily routines, turning off and on lights and calling friends and family.
- List all medications. Write down all medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, including dosages, prescribing doctor and frequency and put the list in a place where your parents and you can easily access it.
- Note allergies. Along with the list of medications, including any food, medication or other allergies, such as to latex or adhesives.
- Write and display a community DNR. What’s a community DNR? If your parents have a do-not-resuscitate order, does it also apply to medical emergencies that happen in the community, outside a hospital or healthcare setting? If not, make sure it does.
Schedule — and make — a daily check-in call. Ask your parents to agree to make or receive a daily check-in call. Listen for abnormalities in their speech. Have a pla
Seeking guardianship over your parents
Guardianship gives you the legal right to make decisions for your parents. While we at Senior Lifestyle are not legal advisers, we do recommend you work with your family attorney to help you understand the process for taking legal guardianship over a parent or loved one.
According to Findlaw, the guardianship process can take a long time and be expensive. Your family attorney can help you understand your state’s requirements for guardianship, but they will likely involve some form of these steps:
- Filing a petition to the court explaining why you seek guardianship
- Informing the elderly person and other family members
- Investigation by the court
- A hearing where a judge makes a decision
Talk to a senior living professional
Use our interactive map to find senior living communities in your parents’ area. Browse the photos, read the descriptions, and bookmark your favorites. Look at the floorplans, read the testimonials from other residents, and explore the communities’ programs. Schedule an appointment to meet with the staff and talk through your parents’ concerns.