By Joy Loverde
Mom and Bill’s long-distance move from Florida to Chicago taught me invaluable family-caregiving lessons which I wrote about in twenty-four blogs. I’d like to share with you the highlights of what I learned in the hopes that you can bypass some of the unexpected twists and turns of the aging parent relocation process.
- There is no way around it, visit your aging parents in person in order to assess how much longer they can realistically remain independent in their home. Conversations over the telephone are not a realistic method of knowing what’s really going on. My book, The Complete Eldercare Planner (2009) offers a comprehensive list of tell-tale signs that they may need help.
- In many cases it takes a lot longer than we expect for people to decide to relocate. It took Mom and Bill five years. Keep asking, prodding, and questioning, and use statements like, “Have you given any thought to what you would do if you needed help and the family was so very far away?”
- There’s no use feeling frustrated when your aging parents tell you they are staying put. A better use of your time is to investigate in-home care options ahead of time in the event of an eldercare medical emergency and that they need immediate assistance.
- If you haven’t done so already, next visit with your aging parents, introduce yourself to their neighbors and friends. Exchange email and phone numbers, and let them know they can call you 24/7.
- Convince your aging parents to get a cell phone. Teach them how to use it and pre-program all family contact information and set up the speed dial feature.
- Pay attention to when your aging parents start telling you that friends of theirs have died or moved away. They are in the beginning stages of understanding the serious consequences of living far away from family. Don’t be afraid to point this out.
- Once your aging parents tell you they have made the decision to move, their stress and worries about the move process will most likely surface immediately. Resist the temptation to add to the negative emotional climate. Let them vent and you stay calm, even if you’re tired and worried as well. If they get the sense that you are at wits end, they may change their mind if they think the move process is too heavy a burden on you.