Back to the Future

So, your adult children are considering moving back home? Although some might welcome this move, both parties do not always greet it with overwhelming excitement. Personal boundaries, privacy requirements, financial issues, and lifestyle preferences can all be sources of friction.

However, when your parent who lives across the country moves back to the neighborhood to be close to family –  it can prove to be one of the most joyful experiences for you, your family, and your parents, if well planned out.

Lets Get This Straight

The same sources of friction that are present when adult children move in with their parents, can bring about similar issues between an adult child and ones parents, when the shoe is on the other foot. If both parties are wise enough to address any problems early, with a frank discussion, they could avoid tarnishing a very wonderful journey.

Where to From Here?

Seniors often describe living with their adult children as lonely. Others have felt absorbed into their familys life, while not really living their own. This can be justified if financial conditions require such a move. However, if the resources are available, it certainly seems to make more sense to move into a place where seniors are with others of their own era; somewhere they get to enjoy the history, music, values, and entertainment that they relate to. Retirement Communities have flourished, as they are attuned to the needs of seniors who are still very much engaged in life, and looking for a more vibrant and safer lifestyle. Our residents tell us their health indexes actually improve, after just a short time of moving into one of our communities.

First Things First

One of the mistakes that adult children make, is to expect that their aging parents can manage all the decision-making, organization, and management of a move, whether it be from across the street or across the country. In fact, the best way to execute a move may be very different than one would think. Although counter intuitive, its better to first move your parents into where they are going to be living out the next chapter in their lives, then dispose of property and extra belongings through gifting, selling or donating. This strategy reduces the wear and tear on them, and the family as well.

Mission Possible

So, once the decision has been made to move, by family and mom and dad, it is time to do some recon. One of our recent new residents son and daughter-in-law, shifted into full gear at this point. They set out on a search with a list of retirement community options-close to their own home, which met their mothers requirements. When they first walked through the front door of our community, they loved what they heard and what they saw. However, their second time around was when they got their real impression. They went undercover, to make sure that what we said we were all about was for real. They kept saying this is such a happy place! Happy Residents! Happy Staff! Once they were convinced they had made the right decision, they discussed the idea with mom, showed her photos of the community and the residents, and got her approval. They then booked a flight for mom from southern California, a U-Haul to move her stuff, and the plan was set in motion.

A lot of Moving Parts

The biggest job of moving (other than moving the grand piano) is the sorting part; what am I taking with me, giving away, selling, and donating?I f you are looking at a 40-60 year accumulation of stuff, this can be absolutely overwhelming.

Some families tend to discard old furniture, thinking that it is cheaper or better to buy new things. The only problem with this, they forget that familiar things can provide a sense of comfort in new surroundings.

A floor plan of the new apartment, and a measuring tape can save a lot of time and frustration. Many backs and tempers suffer from trying to fit 3000 square feet of stuff, into a 900 square ft apartment. Extra or over sized furniture and furnishings, can prove to be a fall risk.

No Looking Back

Many seniors that have been living alone and somewhat isolated, approach the idea of moving into a community with a lot of anxiety. It may have been years since your senior has lived with a spouse or in a community living situation; be it college or the military. They may have lost some of their social confidence, which causes them to wonder if they will be accepted, if their clothes are presentable, or if they will find new friendships. Family support can be valuable the first couple of weeks, whether it be spending a few nights with them, sharing some meal times and activities, or just being in the common areas to mingle and visit while they gently move into the fold. On the other hand, it is important to remember that too much sheltering can send the wrong message, and interfere with their getting to know new people.

Seeing your parents launch a new start, and develop a life and a community can be so fulfilling. The best gift a family can give their senior is a happy and fulfilled life.