Helping Your Parents Through a Later Life Move
- Start talking with your parents about issues that they (and you) may face with this move and their aging – make plans with, not for, your parents if at all possible.
- Educate yourself about elder care issues and options. The better educated you are, the more help you will be to your parents.
- Give your parents permission to move if they need this from you.
- Respond if your parents tell you it’s time for you to come and get your stuff (you know, all those things you asked your parents to keep and store for you all these years).
- Think twice about moving your parents long distance to be closer to you. Make sure this move is best for them and not just for you.
- Think twice about suggesting that your parents move in with you. This may work well in some situations but in many cases your parents may need and want their own space and friends just as you do.
- Talk to and involve other family members – don’t wait for conflicts or miscommunication to occur.
- KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) Things that may sound easy for you like holding a garage sale or selling your own house or making multiple moves will NOT be easy for your aging parents. Keep this transition process as simple and streamlined and easy on them as possible.
- Realize that in some situations you may need to give your parents advice just as they so often advised you as you were growing up and maturing into full adulthood. Help to prevent them from making unwise decisions if at all possible.
- Be honest about your relationship with your parents and your ability to help them and be of support to them.
- Allow your parents to share their stories and memories as they make this transition to a new home. Best of all, help your parents plan some type of ritual to say good-bye to their current home and to celebrate all the good times and memories.
- Remember that moving in general is a stressful experience. As you work with your parents and siblings, keep three objectives in mind: take care of your parents, take care of yourself and keep the family intact.
- Appreciate and value the time you have left with your parents.
- Allow both your parents and you the opportunity to grieve the losses you are experiencing with this move.
- Put aside your own fears about aging and help your parents to fully open to the new opportunities and experiences this transition can offer them.
- Plan a housewarming ritual to help your parents celebrate their new home (and this new beginning!).
- Give your parents time to adjust. Remember how they gave you the space, time and support you needed to adjust when you went away to camp for the first time?
- Take a realistic look at your parents and how they are managing as they continue to age. Step in and help them as needed.
- Be resistant to your parents’ wish to sell their home and move just because you want things to stay the same.
- Assume your parents can easily find a live-in caretaker when the time comes for them to need some assistance.
- Assume your parents’ neighbors and friends will always be there and willing to help and support them as they age.
- Take over and make all the decisions for your parents. Remember that this is their transition and life, not yours.
- Forget to talk to your siblings, along with your parents, about what may lie ahead.
- Wait for a crisis (e.g., the death of one of your parents) before you start talking to your parents about their plans and thoughts on their later life transitions.
- Deny the fact that your parents are aging and that they will die at some point in the future.
- Assume your parents are able to handle everything they were once capable of handling.
- Hesitate to get outside help if your availability or your time is limited. Help with the things that will most support your parents and leave the rest to outside help if possible.
- Let your own emotional baggage get in the way of helping your parents.
- Rush your parents through this transition for the sake of efficiency. This is not a process that can be rushed – that’s why planning ahead is so important.
- Bring your parents more useless “stuff” after they have gone through the big job of downsizing.
- Assume that this transition is complete just because the move is done. Adjustments take time and you may need to continue to support your parents through the adjustment period until they feel at home again.
- Forget that additional transitions are in store for your parents as they continue to age. Help them (and yourself) accept that change is part of life and inevitable.
Sue Ronnenkamp is a nationally recognized expert in the area of later life living transitions. After 10 years of refining the “how to” of right-sizing/downsizing, Sue has shifted her focus to WHY continuing to move forward in all areas of our lives is key to vital and successful aging. Her new business is called Age-Full Living with its primary focus on embracing changing with our aging, living later life to the fullest, and reaping the gifts and blessings of growing older. For more information, visit Sue’s website at www.AgeFullLiving.com.