By Hazel Bridges
Oftentimes, we forget about the importance of spending quality time with our senior loved ones.
Like many older adults, our loved ones may feel lonely and isolated, especially if they live alone or have lost a spouse or partner.
For this reason, it’s important to make some time for them in our lives.
For some, this may be as easy as a drive across town.
However, what happens when your loved one lives very far away?
If a senior loved one lives far from you, the time may come when you must move closer.
But what indications are there that time has arrived?
How do you juggle moving with helping your loved one?
What are your options if they need to move to a different house?
Here are some considerations to make during a visit when trying to identify the right time to move closer to your loved one.
Check the condition of their home.
The home of your senior loved one can be a major indication of their well-being.
Hoarding will be immediately apparent, but there are other signs that there are problems.
Check for dusty shelves, tables, and counters. Make sure that garbage isn’t piling up.
Don’t forget to check places like the garage to make sure there are no hidden garbage piles or hoarded items.
Additionally, does the home allow for easy mobility? Is your loved one struggling to get around their house, let alone around town?
According to AARP, one in four seniors will endure a fall at some point.
If the house does have some cleanliness issues, look for trip hazards on the floor.
If your loved one uses a walker, be sure there is enough room for them to navigate it safely around the home.
Pay attention to major fluctuations in mindset.
There are several signs that you may need to move, including your loved one’s state of mind.
Do they still seem sharp or are they having trouble communicating?
Are there signs of memory loss? What about forgetfulness?
Extreme changes in weight are not only a sign that your loved one needs more hands-on care, it could also indicate depression.
This depression may come from many different sources, even from being so far away from family. Check-in on how much your loved one is eating. Too much or too little is an issue.
Assess the home and new living options.
Once you’ve established what kind of mobility limitations your senior loved one currently has, it’s time to establish whether it’s time for them to move. (Remember, you can both move, but a long move to another city or state would be extremely taxing for your senior.)
In addition to the considerations above, ask yourself:
- Are there stairs?
- Do the doors have handles (preferable) or knobs (less accessible)?
- Is there adequate lighting?
- Is there a walk-in shower or safety bars around the tub?
- Are there tripping hazards like half-steps (perhaps leading to another room on the same floor)?
- Where are the power outlets in the home? Are they easily accessed by your loved one?
With these questions in mind, you may decide that your loved one needs a new home as well as your own relocation. This process entails its own challenges.
Your senior will need to sell their house and apply for a new home loan and mortgage.
In this process, lenders will calculate their debt-to-income ratio. This determines their realistic pay each month.
To calculate it yourself, add up their existing monthly debt obligations (mortgage payments or rent, utility bills, groceries, etc.) and divide this total by their gross monthly income (the amount of money you have before spending).
Use a moving company to make your own relocation easier
You’ve got a lot on your plate: changing jobs, changing your child’s school, changing your spouse’s job, paperwork on a new home… it’s too much for just about anyone, even with support!
Delegate your moving responsibilities to a moving company.
They can take care of all the wrapping, packing, and loading.
As Life Storage notes, hiring a moving company does require some homework — checking references and comparing prices, for instance.
Overall, though, most of your moving woes will be handled by your selected moving company.
Check to see if there are senior relocation managers in your loved one’s area.
Some moving companies specialize in moving seniors specifically. They can help downsize and organize in addition to the relocation.
Still, be there for the move if possible. It’s important that your loved one has you to help supervise.
Hire help until you get there.
Take all of your evaluations of your aging loved one’s conditions and needs and create a list of necessary services.
It could be anywhere from a housekeeper to a senior buddy program. (Did you know there are even online companion programs?)
You also might ask family, friends, or neighbors to check in every day or two.
If needed, you can pay them to come for social visits, help with cleaning, or bring groceries.
If your senior loved one is in dire need of help before you get there, hiring an aide or home care company is the right move.
Just like with the movers, do plenty of research and interviewing.
Don’t forget to consult your senior loved one. They will be the ones to work with this person (or these people) on a regular basis, and positive chemistry is vital.
It isn’t easy to determine whether or not you should move closer to your aging loved one, but their life may literally depend on it.
Ensure that throughout the process, the respect and dignity of your loved one are maintained.
Their life is changing drastically, and you must let them have some control over the process.