Preparing Parents to Move to a Retirement Home
September 2, 2020Retirement Communities
The Toll Retirement Can Take
Throughout your life, you will go through different stages of growth and development; graduating from high school, landing your first job, getting married, raising children, along with so many other important life stages. Retirement is one of those monumental changes; life starts to slow down without the fast pace of steady work, children are busy with their own families, and health issues might be on the rise. It is an emotional struggle to get used to the idea of retiring, especially when a career takes up the majority of someone’s life. Sure, the thought of retiring sounds like a dream without as many responsibilities and more freedom to pursue passions, but what many people don’t think about is the emotional battle that comes with a life change like retirement.
Think about it. During the young adult years, the drive and motivating force focuses on career path. What college do I attend in order to score the career that I want? How is this minimum-wage job going to steer me towards my goals? Are these jobs getting me closer to my desired career? All of these questions fuel you towards the end goal of your dream career. Your career is your everything for a majority of your life; when that piece of your life is gone, or taken from you, it can be hard to move on.
Another topic that brings up the conversation of retirement is health; your health directly impacts your career, and livelihood in general. The retiring age is set at sixty-six, but health issues will often spring up before then. Lack of energy, loss of eyesight, various diseases like cancer, diabetes, or multiple sclerosis are a few issues to name that greatly impact health. (This is not to say that people can’t bounce back from certain health issues, because they absolutely can!) When diseases get worse, they get in the way of a regular lifestyle, and the need for a change is obvious.
Retirement is a heavy topic; the word “retirement” alone can bring up negative vibes, but more so does “retirement home.” These two words come hand in hand for many people, but most often for those nearing retirement age, or those who are getting ready to make the transition to a retirement home. You might be going through this process yourself with your parents. Now that we have a little bit of an understanding into the negative issues that impact retirement and the thoughts around it, let’s get into the ways you can support your family as they make this monumental transition.
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Support and Preparation
During a period of change, love and support is necessary for a smooth transition. Having a strong community of people around you is so beneficial to your health. As your parents start to process this change, make sure to be a source of compassion and love. Just as you were reliant on them during a good majority of your life, it’s time to return the favor. There are so many emotions mixed in with moving to a retirement community and leaving the place you called home for a lifetime. How do you prepare your parents for the emotional process of moving to a retirement home? Here is a step-by-step list of some of the ways you can make the transition easier.
Start the Conversation Early
It is often far more comfortable to deal with something when you have general background information about the subject, especially when it is something that could come across as negative. The more you know, the better. This concept is the same for bringing up retirement. If you can start the conversation early when the need for a retirement home isn’t urgent, it will be better in the long run. Your parent will have time to process the idea before it is necessary. As the need progresses, hopefully you and your family will have a positive experience with the topic that will ease you into a deeper conversation.
Make Sure Family is on Same Page
I cannot stress the importance of this one enough. All family members need to be on the same wavelength with your parents moving to a retirement home. It will make the transition much smoother for everyone. With the support of brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, etc., your parents will be more inclined to make the move. However, if just one of you has an opposing view, a parent can latch onto the idea and stick with the opinion not to move. Being on the same side helps millions!
Share Your Concerns
Instead of speaking in a definitive manner, try to be comforting and encouraging. Phrasing like, “You have to” or “Do this or that,” can be seen as negative. People like to have the ability to decide for themselves; they still want to feel like they have power over their own selves. The important thing is to share your concern as a caring child, hoping for the absolute best for your parents. When parents are aware of your concerns, they will be more receptive to you.
Don’t Give Up
Sometimes it will take a long time to convince your parent to go along with the process. They need to be receptive to the idea before they can even begin to decide on moving to a retirement home. It could take a year or more to turn the conversation into a positive note. Often times, the topic will becomes sour and extremely negative. At that point, move on, and wait for a while before starting up again. It will take time.
If your parents are starting to become more receptive to transitioning to a retirement home, go on a few tours! Sometimes the best way to be comfortable with something is to jump in a test the waters. This is a great idea because your parents will be able to see these communities in action. The management clerk will be able to show your group around, giving you a tour of the premises and hopefully run into some of the residents. The experience will be worth it. Make sure to bring a list of questions for each facility, for both you and your parents.
Highlight the Benefits
Retirement communities pack in a lot of positive benefits for seniors: community, safety, comfort, and home maintenance are just some of them. The community alone is a huge pull factor. With a large group of like-minded adults, your parents can thrive. They will be able to go through life together with people who are dealing with similar issues and stages of life. Retirement homes are gated; safety is paramount. They are comfortable places to live, and the responsibility of maintaining a home is long gone. You can read about more of the positive impacts of retirement homes here: (I figured you could link the last article I did to this one to promote more blog involvement “What are the benefits of moving to a retirement home?”)
Have a Party
Get the family together! Invite your parents’ closest friends, and throw a homey going-away party for your loved ones. This will help them to reflect on the joys of their home, but also the community that surrounds them. People are the ones who create the community, with shared moments and memories. Being able to reminisce about the good times will be a positive last hurrah for your parents and a wonderful get together for all of you before your parents make new memories in a new home.
The process of moving is stressful for anyone; the purging, packing, and transfer of household materials is enough to make you go crazy. With assistance, this process can go smoothly and can be a nice trip down memory lane. Your immediate family members can come join your parents to help go through the house. Take some time to look through old scrapbooks, photos, trophies, or handmade items with your parents. Help them figure out which items they will be getting rid of or taking to their new home. This is a time where parents will be deciding which part of their lives will be moving on with them. Just make sure to be respectful of their wishes; sometimes the most random object can be sentimental and treasured to a parent. Enjoy the process together.
About THE AUTHOR
With multiple family members currently in senior living facilities, David is in the trenches every week, learning the ins and outs of nursing homes, assisted living, memory care, and general senior living.Read more about David Bolton
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