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Talking to your loved one about moving

The best time to make future plans is before you’re in the midst of a crisis. Open and honest conversations about what your loved one wants as they age can pave the way for easier transitions.

Those early conversations, when there is no need to move immediately, can help create a plan and agreement at a time when fewer emotions are involved.

But there’s no avoiding the fact that these conversations can be tough. Many senior family members see a move out of their long-time homes as losing independence or an acknowledgement that they can’t care for themselves. Here are a few tips to help guide your conversation with your loved one:

  • Don’t tell your loved one what to do. Everyone, no matter their age, makes decisions more easily when they feel as if they have choices. Listen to what your loved one says about their home or living situation so you understand what is driving their concerns.
  • Offer to help with household management. Many people want to stay in their home as long as possible, but determining when that’s no longer an option may be an issue. If you help out around your loved one’s home, you can get a better handle on whether there are problems. Can they still cook? Go up and down stairs? Do they have the energy needed for maintenance?
  • Examine finances. Your loved one may be concerned they don’t have enough money to make the move. Sit down with them to determine their monthly income and assets, as well as debts, so you’re dealing with the facts.
  • Consider different scenarios. What if one of your parents becomes ill and the other one doesn’t? What if one wants to live in assisted living but the other wants independent living? Talk about the options and make sure everyone understands the different kinds of care and how it can be customized for their needs.
  • Tour area senior living communities. This can be done far ahead of when the move might happen. Seeing options, understanding the community they’ll be joining, and figuring out all the activities available might make the decision easier. Find out where their friends are living and tour those communities too.
  • Talk about the benefits. But don’t shy away from what will change, either. Getting rid of the yard work may be a bonus, but how will you deal with your loved one’s desire to garden? Explore the future and what can be done to make any transition smooth.
  • If the conversations are tough to have, consider adding a third party. A doctor or other professional close to your loved one may be able to offer objective advice.