Look around mom or dad’s house and it’s clear to see that it’s filled with memories and emotions. From photos on the walls to growth notches in the kids’ bedrooms, a house is so much more than just another building.
For many families, a day will come when the only person remaining in the large homestead is mom or dad. The kids have grown up and moved out and perhaps one parent has passed away, leaving a senior citizen to care not only for his or herself, but to maintain the property as well. And as we age, what was once an enjoyable way of life can become a terrific burden.
If you currently find yourself in a situation where you’re helping to care for an older adult who still owns a property, it may be time to talk to your parent or loved one about selling it and moving into a more suitable housing situation. Quite often there is strong resistance to change, but in reality the older occupant(s) are probably only using about one-third of the home’s actual square footage on a regular basis. Additionally, there’s the risk of injury that increases with age. In fact, the Center for Disease Control reports that one-third of adults over the age of 65 fall every year and that these dangerous occurrences increase dramatically with age.
Once there is agreement to discuss alternatives, the next step will be to determine the appropriate new setting for your loved one. There are many choices depending on needs, health, interests, attitude and finances. For example, an older adult in excellent overall health may be a good candidate to continue living independently in a smaller house, condo or apartment, while someone in need of frequent or daily help may require a senior apartment, enriched housing, assisted living or even nursing home care.
In an effort to make the right decision, many families are turning to geriatric care managers to help them sort through the maze of housing choices. These highly trained professionals typically possess a medical and/or social work background as well as working knowledge of insurances and financing options. While the care manager can assist you fully with initial assessment and also determining the best place to live, they are also available to stay on long-term to provide ongoing support and assistance. This arrangement often proves very beneficial for adult children who now live quite a distance from their parent(s).
Another good resource can also be found right in your own backyard, that being your county’s department of senior services. An assessment appointment can be scheduled with a staff member, or they might refer you to your town’s community center if you live in a larger community that has its own department of aging services. There is usually no cost for this service and it is a positive way to enlist a third party in an objective, productive discussion regarding meeting the needs and wants of your loved one over the next several years.
Where’s the best place to start? Every situation and every family is different, so perhaps the easiest answer is to begin with a simple discussion around the kitchen table and just keep at it until the timing is right and your loved one is ready to make positive changes.
This article originally appeared in The Buffalo News Homefinder and is reprinted with permission.