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Talking to Your Kids About a Retirement Move

by Donna Quinn Robbins

Communication and denial play major roles in parent-child relationships. Most kids strive to do what’s best for their parents. But there are some, unfortunately, who are looking for an easy way out. Parents, for the most part, just don’t want to be a burden to their families.

How can you make the process a family affair, a time to come together and deal with important issues that will affect the futures of both you and your children?

Let’s make it simple. We’ll start with the parents, since they are the ones whose lives will be affected most dramatically, about how to talk about moving to a retirement home:

What can Parents do to Help Their Children in this Process?

  • Don’t assume or expect anything from your children.
  • Communicate the changes you see happening in your health or circumstances.
  • Talk about money.
  • Understand that your kids have lives too. Don’t expect them to drop everything when you call.
  • Realize that when your kids disagree with you, it doesn’t mean they don’t love you.
  • Be honest with yourself and your family. Acknowledge when a change is needed.
  • Tell your family how you feel.
  • Ask for help when you need help, and then help your kids help you.
  • Have some humor about your aging process if you can. It works wonders.

How to Talk to Aging Parents About Moving

  • Before attempting to help your parents with this important and challenging life transition, first lay the groundwork – with your siblings if possible – and then have a discussion, or a series of discussions, with your parents.
  • Realize your capabilities, and anticipate what your life will include over the next 10 years or so – are your children going to be in their active years, or in college, just when your parents may need your physical presence or financial assistance? Realize you can only do so much. Let your family members know your boundaries.
  • Discuss the situation, including money, openly and honestly with your parents and siblings.
  • Understand the choices, and be prepared to only agree to the situations you can live with.
  • Stay calm, as kids can sometimes make the situation worse. Yes, you may feel as though you are ”losing”your family home, but remember, this is your parent’s life. You need to respect that.
  • Understand your motives.
  • Have patience.
  • Try to understand the situation from your parents’ point of view.
  • Support them, guide them, help them, but be tough when you need to be.

Denial is a Huge Part of Aging

Those who can be realistic and make choices for their later years — like deciding to move to a retirement community — are the ones who will be the happiest and feel the most in control. None of us wants to feel out of control, and many just plain don’t want to deal with any aspect of the aging process. Families can be severely impacted because of this attitude. The consequences of failing to plan ahead are not real to many seniors. “I’ll take my chances” are words I hear on a daily basis. Perhaps nothing will happen, but it is wise to have a plan just in case. It’s funny how we plan for everything in our lives except for the last years. Get smart! Enjoy those remaining years. Have some fun. Be involved. Don’t be in denial — and that goes for the kids as well.

What to Ask

When interviewing representatives of a senior living community, here are some questions to ask:

  • Who owns the community?
  • Is there a provision for residents who may exhaust their resources?
  • Is there a charge for a second person?
  • What is the expected annual percentage increase in fees?
  • How old is the community?
  • Do I rent, own or have lifetime occupancy rights?
  • Who sells my residence? If I have equity in the property, how much do I get if I sell my property? How much does my estate receive if I die?
  • Is there a religious affiliation?
  • What is the average age of the residents, and is there a minimum or maximum age at entry?
  • Is a physical required?
  • Does the community offer or accept long-term care insurance?
  • Is there a waiting list?
  • How many health-care staff are on duty at all times?
  • What hobby or recreational interests are offered?
  • Are state and national criminal background checks done on employees?
  • Are pets allowed? (This may be a question both for people who want to bring a pet, and also to those who prefer not living in a community where animals are allowed.)
  • What are the policies on smoking and alcohol?
  • Are resident satisfaction surveys conducted? How often? How are results analyzed and acted on?

Donna Quinn Robbins has appeared on the NBC “Today” show to discuss senior living alternatives and the process of moving into a senior living community.

Looking for a senior living community near you? Life Care Services has over 140 communities across the country. Find a community near you.