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Life Transitions

Helping Aging Parents Move

Here's how you can help them make the change.

Doing the Numbers: Finances
My parents made a decision in their younger years that will support their needs for services: They purchased long-term-care insurance. It will help pay for home-health services, assisted living, or skilled nursing care as they need it. Even so, however, the financial aspects of The Big Move have been quite daunting. As my parents' financial manager, I have felt as if I were herding cats trying to put all the financial pieces together. Despite the intricacies of funding, though, we forged ahead.

Screening and Visiting
I contacted an assisted-living locator service, which assessed our needs and discussed housing options. The service took my sister and me to visit six facilities in the geographic area we had designated. We wanted a place close to my sister's home and my parent's house, for two reasons: 1) We wanted to make the transition as easy as possible; their continuing to go to the same grocery store, hair salon, drug store, and other key spots, would help a lot; 2) we knew that the closer the new place would be to our homes, the more frequently and easily we could be there to spend time with them. This way, too, we could be sure they would get the best possible support. The idea was to narrow down the list and to take my parents to visit two of them.

Easier said than done—we ended up taking them to visit four, because we wanted to see their reactions and to gauge what was important to them. After all, they are the ones who have to live with the choice, right?

The Final Choice
Of course, none of the facilities had it all. After visiting, testing out the food (which ranged from practically gourmet to just OK), and meeting the residents and staff at four facilities—ranging from assisted living, to independent living to continuing-care retirement communities (which offer many levels of care, from independent living to assisted living to memory care and skilled nursing)—we compared the options. We settled on the continuing-care option. My parents would move into a two-bedroom apartment in the independent-living part of the community. That decision was based on several factors:

  • The residents all seemed genuinely happy there, and were very friendly.
  • The community offers a "personalized living" service, which includes flexible home-health services right in their apartment.
  • There's a physical-therapy program and ongoing one-on-one exercise assistance on-site—both of which are important to Mom.
  • As my parents age, if they need higher levels of care, they can receive it on the same community campus.
  • The facility had the largest apartment (1,220 square feet). Mom thought it wouldn't feel like quite so much of a "step down" from their big, spacious home.
  • The community is less than 3 miles from my sister's house and their old house—so all their familiar haunts will be nearby and within the transportation boundaries the facility offers.

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