Senior Planning

Transitioning

When It’s Time to Leave Home: Making the Change

By the National Institute on Aging

The decision about whether your parents should move is often tricky and emotional. Each family will have its own reasons for wanting (or not wanting) to take such a step. One family may decide a move is right because the parents can no longer manage the home. For another family, the need for hands-on care in a long-term care facility motivates a change.

In the case of long-distance caregivers, the notion of moving can seem like a solution to the problem of not being close enough to help. For some caregivers, moving a sick or aging parent to their own home or community can be a viable alternative. Some families decide to have an adult child move back to the parent’s home to become the primary caregiver.

Keep in mind that leaving a home, community, and familiar medical care can be very disruptive and difficult for the older parent, especially if they are not enthusiastic about the change. You might first want to explore what services are available in your parents’ community to help them in their home — including home health care, housekeeping, personal care, and transportation services.

Myriad options exist when it comes to deciding where to live, but these choices can be limited by factors such as illness, ability to perform activities of daily living (for example, eating, bathing, using the toilet, dressing, walking, and moving from bed to chair), financial resources, and personal preferences.

Tips for the Transition

• Keep in mind that leaving a home, community, and familiar medical care can be very disruptive and difficult for the older parent. First explore what services are available in their community to help them in their home.

• Some families find a conference call is a good way to talk together about the pros and cons of each option. The goal of this call is to come up with a plan that works for everyone, especially your parent.

• Many older adults want to ‘age in place’ — to stay in their own homes as they get older — but may have concerns about safety, getting around, or other daily activities. A few changes could help the resident continue to live independently.

• Whatever your decision, try not to let your parent or loved one feel threatened or forced.

Older adults, or those with serious illness, can choose to stay in their own home or move to a smaller one, move to an assisted-living facility, move to a long-term care facility, or move in with a family member. Making a decision that is best for your parent — and making that decision with your parent — can be difficult. Try to learn as much as you can about possible housing options.

Some families find a conference call is a good way to talk together about the pros and cons of each option. The goal of this call is to come up with a plan that works for everyone, especially your parent. If the decision involves a move for your mom or dad, you could, even from a distance, offer to arrange tours of some places for their consideration.

Experts advise families to think carefully before moving an aging adult into an adult child’s home. There are a lot of questions to consider. For example, is there space in your home? Is someone around to help the older person during the whole day? What are your parents able to do for themselves? What personal care are you willing and able to provide — moving your parent from a chair to a bed or toilet, changing adult diapers, or using a feeding tube, for example? What kinds of home-care services are available in your community? What kind of specialized medical care is available nearby?

Many older adults want to ‘age in place’ — to stay in their own homes as they get older — but may have concerns about safety, getting around, or other daily activities. A few changes could make the home easier and safer to live in and help the resident continue to live independently.

For example, don’t use area rugs, and check that all carpets are fixed firmly to the floor. Replace handles on doors or faucets with ones that are comfortable for you to use. Install grab bars near toilets and in the tub or shower. Reduce fall hazards by placing no-slip strips or non-skid mats on tile and wood floors or surfaces that may get wet. Place light switches at the top and bottom of stairs and remember to turn on nightlights. Install a ramp with handrails to the front door.

Whatever your decision, try not to let your parent or loved one feel threatened or forced. Help them understand you have their best interest at heart, and want to find a solution that works for everyone.

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