Miles—and even states—separate many of us from an aging parent. That distance can create havoc: lost days of work, flying back and forth as crises occur, and lost sleep wondering what will happen next. Depression, falls, dementia? Now it’s finally time to make a change. Our parent agrees that they need to move close to us. Here are some tips to help the process.
1. Decide on a place to live—It’s best to start early looking at types of housing: retirement communities, assisted living or adult family homes. Once you and your parent make a choice, make sure you’re added to the waiting list and keep in close contact with the marketing director as the time for their move draws near.
2. Get help with the home sale and with sorting through belongings—Most families move their loved ones before putting the home up for sale. Connect with a Realtor here who can refer you to a credentialed Senior Real Estate Specialist® where your parent lives. Your Realtor may also be able to recommend a professional organizer to help sort and prioritize beloved possessions.
3. Find a doctor—A call to your own doctor may help you locate a physician specializing in geriatrics. Assisted living nursing staff can also provide referrals.
4. Ask for your parent’s medical records to be
transferred—As soon as possible, schedule a visit with the new physician. If you’re moving them to assisted living, an adult family home or nursing home, the physician will need to see your parent before they can move in.
5. Make sure your parent’s insurance is valid here—If not, you’ll need to disenroll your parent from their current insurance and enroll in a comparable plan near you. Connect with customer service from both companies to assure a smooth transition. For more information on Medicare supplemental insurance and managed care plans, call Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) at 800-562-6900. SHIBA is affiliated with the Washington State Insurance Commissioner’s Office, and uses trained volunteers to educate consumers on the various insurance options.
6. Check out legal documents—Powers of attorney and advance directives are worded differently from state to state, but generally transfer across state lines. A visit to an attorney in Washington is a good idea so you and your parent can make changes if needed.
7. Find fun things to do—If he’s a bridge player, check out opportunities at the local senior center—Washington State has some great ones! Ask for a catalog of activities, and peruse them to see which might spark an interest. If she has attended a church or other religious group, find a similar congregation locally. Other associations your parent has had in the past, such as garden clubs, the Elks, Rotary, etc., may be available in your area. Don’t forget veterans’ organizations. If your parent is moving to a retirement or assisted living community, staff will do some of the work of finding the right opportunities for your parent.
Moving parents closer to you is still a move away from their home, friends and community. Helping them through each step will ease this often difficult but necessary transition.