Help me help my elderly parents move

<p>My parents, 84 and 86, who live on the gorgeous central coast of California, have decided to move further south to be closer to my sister and me. I did some research, found them a fantastic independent/assisted living condominium complex in a So Cal coastal community, and yesterday drove them there to purchase a condo and sign papers. My folks have, until now, been athletic, healthy, independent and strong willed. But like a lot of folks in their eighties it seems as if a switch goes off and suddenly they seem another ten years older. I really admire their determination to still live independently, their ability to save money for this and their sincere love and care for one another. Each one has pulled me aside independently and told me in confidence that "I really don't need this, but your Mom/Dad has such a tough time". As I said, I did the footwork and I am now helping with hiring contractors to spruce up the condo with new bathrooms, floors and a kitchen for my very particular mom.
Has anyone else gone through this and have you any advice how to help them go through this big transition? I'm doing my best to make it "fun and exciting", but on the last visit with them......resignation seemed to be the tone.</p>

<p>As an former resident of the 'gorgeous central coast', I feel for them leaving that area for the south. You probably know all too well, how northern or near northern CA folk sometimes feel about SoCa. I bet they're in a bit of mourning at the end of their time there. It is part of the process, and allow them those feelings. After the move occurs, if they are the strong sorts you describe, hopefully the resignation will be replaced with happiness at the new beautiful place and new opportunities. </p>

<p>Sounds as if you are being as conscientious as possible in what is inevitably a needed transition. I see this all the time at work, and that is folks leaving warmer climes to be near family in cold Wisconsin! There is sadness, but also relief, at being near the offspring, at knowing family is close by, at burdening you less with travel to care for them. It sounds as if they know they are doing the right thing. </p>

<p>Keep expressing your own happiness about this transition, the increased family contact, and in time, I'd hope they will share it. They're also so fortunate to be a half days drive away, so visits back are not impossible.</p>

<p>No personal advice, but I'd bet that there's a post with similar experiences over on Caring</a> for Aging Parents - The New Old Age Blog - NYTimes.com The comments are always worth reading here, generally other readers relating their own experiences.</p>

<p>Thanks for that.....yes I do need to allow them to feel their sadness. In my search for a great place, I was sure to find them a place with spectacular ocean views and quick access to the beach. But nothing beats the home they are currently in....vineyards, views, and ocean (and rural quiet).
And thanks Slithey---nice link.</p>

<p>I think one serious concern they might have is finding new health care providers. I know I'd hate to have to give up some of the relationships I have with trusted docs, dentist, etc., and start fresh, and as we age, we certainly tend to accumulate a slate of specialists of every sort (heading to the retina specialist next week--a few years ago I never knew such a specialty existed). Perhaps you can do some legwork to help the find new providers--speak to friends whose parents live in the area and find out who they use, get some referrals from their existing docs, set up some introductory consultations so they can see if they like the new candidates, and arrange for records to be transferred once new providers are selected. By doing some of the "dirty work", you can allow them to spend more time enjoying their new home.</p>

<p>That is really good advice because many providers no longer accept medicare (at least in my neck of the woods). Finding doctors for them now will be a huge help for them and allows you time to get it done before it is really needed.</p>

<p>I did not but my aunt moved my grandmother and her sister in similar circumstances. It was really hard for them to decide what to take and what to leave. Arrange for a storage unit near the new place so they can change their minds 20 times if needed. It is worth the little extra to reduce the stress and let them move much more than they really need. It is a process not an event.</p>

<p>Yes....health care providers need to be lined up. That's my sisters chore. My folks have been great at sorting through the accumulation of stuff for the past two years. Good idea about the storage....my mom felt pressured to decide what furniture to take. It would be nice to put some things in storage so that she can change out stuff if she needs to.</p>

<p>When we moved my folks, one of the unanticipated consequences was loss of light. Living in their own home, they had plentiful light from all directions, and their new place just didn't have similar quantities of light. They'd had fairly minimal decorating, because large expanses of windows faced a lake, and it took some time to figure out how to deal with it when their only natural light in the new place was from the north. They also needed more/different lamps, since their prior home had a lot more installed lighting than did the new one.</p>

<p>My mom moved from her home of some 50+ years to a retirement community a few years ago. Hiring a professional to help her downsize made things a lot better. She really enjoyed being able to get rid of a lot of things that she had never really liked. She kept the best of it all, then bought a very few things for the new place.</p>

<p>OP, we moved my mid-80's parents from their home in another state into Assisted Living near me. It's as you say -- it's not gradual. Things seemed to go along OK for years, and then one summer, it was like they fell off a cliff. I'm SO glad we moved them when we did; they've had a number of medical problems in the last year that I simply don't know how they'd have coped with in their own home. Someone told me that research shows that, after a certain point, seniors are both happier and healthier in AL than in their own homes. You are doing the right thing. </p>

<p>Even so, it is a huge transition for them and in many ways, a big loss. It's not surprising that they're ambivalent right now and it will take some time for them to settle in and feel at home in their new surroundings. Give them space to grieve and time to adjust. They'll get there; AL is so good at making new residents welcome. </p>

<p>And give yourself time and space to adjust to your new role, that of "parenting your parents." It feels weird, it can be mentally and physically exhausting, and some days it will take every ounce of patience you possess. Be sure to set some boundaries with them from the outset. I see my parents 4 or 5 times a week; the days vary, but they know that my Sundays are off-limits except in a medical emergency. </p>

<p>For the move, you may want to consider a Senior Move Manager NASMM:</a> Welcome. We had a wonderful manager who coordinated all of the logistics which we didn't have the time, energy or expertise to deal with -- selling the house, sorting through possessions, arranging for movers, packing and unpacking, shopping for furnishings. I don't know how we would have managed without her.</p>

<p>Get friendly with the AL staff. They are going to be your extended family now, and they do a million little (and large) things that make a dignified life possible for your parents, without you having to be on call 24/7, everything from taking the dog for a late-night walk to calling the medics in an emergency. They are worth their weight in gold.</p>

<p>Encourage your parents to get involved in the social life of the facility right from the start; it will speed the acclimation and of course, they'll meet people more quickly. These places have activities all day long, frequent outings, and parties at the drop of a hat. At the beginning, you might even want to go along on an activity or two, or have lunch with them in the dining room several times a week.</p>

<p>I agree with the suggestions to find a primary doctor; in fact, go ahead and make appointments now for the week after they move. My father, in particular, felt uneasy during that brief time that he was not under a doctor's care. For our seniors, being plugged into medical care is part of feeling "at home."</p>

<p>One little thing that my father really liked: Soon after they moved in, I got him a map of Sacramento, and marked various landmarks on it: their AL, my house, their doctor, the park we went to, etc. He doesn't drive anymore, but he liked the feeling that he knew where he was.</p>

<p>You guys are the best. Thanks so much.</p>

<p>How are things going, musicamusica?</p>

<p>oh...funny you should ask. They had not yet sold their house, but were ASSURED by their bank that financing the new condo would not be a problem. A month after papers were signed and they were ready to fund, the bank announced that since they were buying into a "mixed use" (there is an Alzheimers care facility on the grounds), that funding would not happen. The bank knew this before, but dropped the ball. Even though they own a 900K house, have the same amount in a retirement, no bank would touch this complex. The folks do not want to draw all the funds from their retirement account since the tax hit would be massive. The experience completely soured them on this particular place since the managers were not open with them on how difficult it is to get loans for these units.
They have decided not to buy until after they sell their house-- ( only been on the market for 30 days.) Even in this market they have had lots of interest.
So this week I am going to another prospective independent/assisted living facility! I plan to have lunch with the manager so that I can get a feel for the place (and the food). Strangely enough this negative experience has lit a little fire under them and made them a bit more pro-active. I think that they realize that they have to be more intellectually involved in the process to make it work. I did take some of the CC suggestions and encouragement to heart. I reminded my folks that with each doctors visit they should discuss this move with their current physician and ask him or her to make some referrals. Mom was excited to call me yesterday to say that her prospective new Dermatologist is the BEST anywhere. The BEST ;). I felt the "warm fuzzies" when she expressed this enthusiasm.</p>

<p>My independent parents moved from a house in the east bay to a retirement community with golf course when they were 80. They lived there until 95 and then I had to find an assisted living community for them the summer my son was getting ready to go to college. That was a sandwich year. My father died within two years at age 96. My mother came and stayed with me and died overseas, age 98.</p>

<p>Musica, they are doing the right thing! Assisted living is great with the right place. It means only one move and not two.</p>

<p>I remember how grateful I felt to my parents when they moved to a place with 3 levels of care. The peace of mind this gave their children was priceless. I made sure they knew what a positive move they had made for the whole family. Things you can do to establish some traditions in their new home might be helpful, like holiday celebrations. We suggested holding our annual family reunion in their new location after they had a little time to settle in. I think it made their new apartment feel more homey, especially for my Mom.</p>

<p>As difficult as all this is, you are very fortunate to have parents willing to move to facilities with continuing care. I had to manage my dad's changing levels of care long distance for 7 years, adn am now dealing with the long distance management/repair/sale of his house. This is no fun. I hsare in the struggles of all sandwich genereation folks here.</p>

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Things you can do to establish some traditions in their new home might be helpful, like holiday celebrations. We suggested holding our annual family reunion in their new location after they had a little time to settle in. I think it made their new apartment feel more homey, especially for my Mom.

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<p>So true. All of the Assisted Living places we visited had a "family dining room." This is a spot where the family can gather for those special occasions -- the size of a normal home dining room, and furnished like one. Sometimes we have whatever's on the menu, and they serve us just like in a restaurant. Or sometimes we order in pizza, or bring something from my house. They're also great for birthday/anniversary celebrations; we bring the cake and they provide the drink. It's private, big enough to accomodate us, and feels more like "home." </p>

<p>These places also make a huge deal over holidays -- usually a big buffet/brunch/dinner with better-than-usual food. They decorate the common areas like crazy, have special events (last Christmas season, a bell choir came to perform), and spread good cheer.</p>

<p>-I do have a secret desire to get them into their new digs before Christmas. We kids have already discussed decorating the heck out of the bungalow and organizing a party for them and the new neighbors. The place I'm checking out this week has a gorgeous party room with a grand piano.Professional singer D already plans on hiring an accompanist and performing her audition arias for her grandparents' captive audience.</p>

<p>Many of the independent/assisted living CAC facilities are wonderful. They remind me of college dorm life. Eat together, same ages, same schedule, similar interests/activities. Sign me up!</p>