In the best of all worlds, people plan for the future. Perhaps in their 60s or 70s, still in good health, they wake up and see their house with new eyes. They ask, "Is this really the perfect home for our retirement?" And they begin to dream...
This is the REAL world, however. Chances are, if you and other Boomers are reading this, your parents are older and more frail. They probably haven't planned for greater health needs. Now it's up to you. Here are some tips, cultivated from seniors and their families who have grappled with finding the best eldercare.
1. Make a wish list.When possible, involve your parents. Write down their desires, and yours, for their next home, or for fixing up their current home. Examine everything: location, size, meals, housekeeping, transportation? What about proximity to medical facilities and doctors and availability of extra health care?
Think through the things your parents enjoy now or in the past, which they might resume if given a chance. Pets? Gardening? Attending church? Playing musical instruments? Are your parents lonely, isolated?
If your parents choose to stay at home, what services will need to be brought in? And is that a workable solution?
Look through your list, and mark any "must haves," realizing that in doing your research, things will change. For example, Val and Luise, devout Catholics from the Seattle area, were sure they wanted a Catholic-sponsored continuing care retirement community. The good news was they found one. The bad news was it was in Memphis, Tennessee. They settled on a Protestant-sponsored community which proved to be a good fit.
2. Look around.With your list in hand, start your search. Ask friends, your parents' physicians and anyone who works in the senior care field. Check out websites to see if the communities meet your qualifications. Narrow your choices to three or four, and visit.
If possible, take your parents along to your top one or two choices. Nearly all retirement and assisted living communities offer tours with lunch. Some allow residents to stay for a weekend, experiencing life from the residents' vantage point. In the best communities, residents will brag about their home and ask your parents, "When are you moving in?"
3. Move ahead.If your parents stay at home but need help with chores or personal care, they'll experience adjustment to having people in their home. If they move to a retirement or assisted living community, the adjustment will be a bit different. They may mourn over the loss of their home and possessions. Staff will comfort, while attempting to engage them in community life. Within a few weeks, most frail elderly folks start making friends and feeling at home.
If this process sounds too time consuming, there are professionals who can shepherd you through the search process. More about them in an upcoming blog.
Can you think of other ways to help people in this search for a perfect retirement home?