Monday, August 8, 2011

Eldercare Dilemma: One Parent Says, 'Let's Move,' the Other Says, 'No Way!'

It's a common tug of war. Your elderly mom wants to say goodby to the big house, leaving the driving, shopping, cooking and cleaning behind. Retirement living sounds like a dream come true.

"No way," counters Dad. In his eyes, the house in which they raised you, cared for your pets and babysat your children is fine forever.

Like many men in the Greatest Generation, your dad may resist moving to a retirement community (or getting in-home help). Here's why:

He already lives at home in a retirement community. It has one employee--your mom--who provides everything. He forgets that when he stopped working in his sixties, his wife didn't. Like the EverReady battery, she kept going and going--cooking, cleaning and tending to his needs. Now, years later, she's spent. But he may not see this.

Your dad may think retirement communities aren't for "real men." If he enjoys gardening, woodworking or puttering, he may wonder, "How will I continue to keep busy?" He may not realize that many retirement communities do offer woodshops, gardening areas and poker clubs. Another option: he can continue to help you with your home projects, as he is willing and able.

He may not see the "big picture." Statistically, your mom will probably outlive your dad. He may not want to think about the difficulties she might face in moving alone, especially in the face of grief. Those challenges include choosing the community, selling the home, downsizing, moving, establishing new friendships. If a married couple moves together to a retirement community, the widow's later adjustment is often easier.

So how do you help your parents in making a decision when both are at loggerheads? Although ultimately the "To Move or Not To Move" question is theirs to resolve, you certainly can offer your listening ear and even your opinion, especially if one person doesn't seem to be heard.

Have any of you faced this dilemma, either with your parents or your clients? Tell us about it.

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