Decide in advance where your parents will age
Discussing aging is a sensitive topic, even for 30-year-olds, but it is a conversation that families should and must have while parents are in good health because it will make a difference later. Many people don’t think about the process of moving early enough, and then find themselves in a crunch to meet deadlines, says Eric Rovner, co-founder of Seattle-based HB Move Management (formerly Benevia) and a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers.
From his years in the senior housing industry, Rovner witnessed the difficulties families faced when abruptly moving a parent into an assisted living community. And this move can affect a parent’s outlook after joining the community. Rovner says communities report that residents who experience a smooth move-in, with their apartment immediately set up on the first day, have a more positive outlook versus those who live among boxes following the move.
What this means is being a planner. “You can’t start [the moving process] early enough,” Rovner recommends.
Of the seniors or families who approach HB Move Management to use their move-coordinating services, he estimates that 20 percent are proactively planning while the other 80 percent are reacting to a change in circumstances (often involving crisis). Even if your parents decide to remain at home until needing supportive services, which may be five or 10 years in the future, steps can be taken now to make the future moving process easier. Rovner suggests taking on small tasks which aren’t disruptive to their current lifestyle, such as cleaning out the garage and discarding old cans of paint, or sorting through paperwork, because there is no advantage to waiting until two weeks before a move to tackle these chores.
Though you can’t anticipate all of life’s surprises, the more time you invest in planning for what scenarios might occur will eliminate future stress. Ideally, you only want to move your parents once so selecting the right community is important, especially when it comes to healthcare services. Some assisted living communities don’t provide Alzheimer’s or dementia memory care while some independent living communities only accommodate residents who require basic assistance with activities of daily living.
Visiting their future home allows your parents to decide which floor plan will suit their needs, and which furniture and decorations can be brought along. “Compromises are going to be required,” Rovner cautions, so everyone should be prepared to understand that a two-bedroom apartment or even a cottage can’t fully recreate or accommodate all the possessions found in a beloved home.
Knowing the types of services provided at a community will also help during the downsizing process. With on-site maintenance provided at communities, bringing tools along isn’t necessary. And if the community provides daily dining service, your parents can cut back on the number of kitchen utensils that need to be packed.
The Ideal Moving Experience
Rovner’s ideal moving model begins with an early downsizing of possessions and paperwork. Parents move into the new apartment while still owning their house. Once settled into the apartment, they can decide whether additional possessions can be brought in or if the coffee table doesn’t fit after all. Then, they return to the house and begin downsizing the remaining possessions and selling the house.
If this experience sounds less stressful than being faced with a move in two weeks, that is why the prior planning pays off. Unfortunately, this isn’t the experience of most families.
Written by SeniorHomes.com’s Andrea Watts.