Should You Move Your Senior Parents Close to You?
Living far away from your family can be a struggle at any point in life, but as your parents age and certain tasks become more difficult for them, it becomes especially hard. Being the caregiver for an aging loved one requires a lot of effort and energy – but being a long-distant caregiver brings its share of extra challenges.
That introduces the difficult question many families face: should you move your senior parents close to you? It’s not a question with an easy answer and figuring out what will work for you and your family requires looking closely at your particular situation. One thing’s for certain though, it’s much easier to make that move before your loved one suffers an injury or medical emergency, so talking about it proactively will be best for everyone involved.
Reasons to Move Your Senior Parents Closer to You
The reasons to move your parents or senior loved ones closer to you are pretty persuasive:
1. They can spend more time with family in the years they have left.
No one lives forever, so you want the chance to spend as many years left with senior loved ones as possible. If loved ones have grandchildren, the chance to watch them grow up more closely is a meaningful opportunity. They can’t get on a plane each time your kids have a game or recital, but if they live in your same city, they can actually be present for those precious moments.
2. They’ll be safer when you’re close.
This is probably the number one reason most families make this decision. When your loved one reaches an age where falling down can mean a long hospital stay, you want to keep them close enough to easily check on them regularly. You know the troubling image of someone stuck on the ground for hours after a fall, but that won’t happen if you’re just a quick drive away.
3. You have time to provide some of the care they would otherwise need to hire someone or move to senior living for.
You can help with things like cleaning and driving them to doctor’s appointments if you are nearby. If they’re living on their own in a city where they don’t have close family, they’re probably stuck either paying someone to help them with those things or relying on charity or the kindness of friends. If they move close enough, you can help.
4. You won’t have to travel far when they need you.
If your loved one does end up in the hospital after a fall or due to an illness, you’ll want to be there with them. If they’re living a few hours away (or more) that means time off work, the cost of gas or plane tickets and a limited amount of time you’ll be able to stay with them before you need to get back to your life. If the same thing happens nearby, getting to the hospital to visit them or to their home to provide them the care they need during recuperation is something you’ll be able to reasonably fit into your life around all your other responsibilities.
Reasons for Your Senior Parents to Stay Where They Are
Those are all pretty compelling reasons to get your parents or senior loved ones set up somewhere nearby, but there are some similarly convincing reasons to avoid uprooting them from the life they’re living now:
1. It’s the home they love and have spent their lives in.
The city and house they live in now may well be where they’ve spent the majority of their life. If they spent time decorating the house to look exactly as they like or put years of work into that garden in the backyard, leaving all that behind isn’t easy. Everybody wants to live out their senior years in the place that feels most right to them and if your parents have carved out a life they love where they are now, then moving will mean giving all that up.
2. Their friends and hobbies are based in the community they’re in now.
If your parents have a community, friends or volunteer in the area they live now, moving them away from their current home will force them to lose all that. Asking a parent to leave behind an active life – even if you feel strongly it’s for their own good – is a lot to ask. Starting over is hard at any point in life, but especially so for seniors.
Ways for Your Family to Decide
Knowing the plusses of each option doesn’t make the decision for you.
Here are a few discussions to have to figure out the right choice for your parent or senior loved one:
1. Consider the resources you have to offer if they move.
Are you prepared to become your parents’ primary caregiver? That could potentially eat up a lot of your energy and time and may not be a feasible job for you to take on alongside your other responsibilities. If you and your family aren’t in a position to provide care to the degree your loved one needs, then your discussion may need to shift to researching assisted living communities.
2. Consider what resources they have nearby.
Do they have a close friend or community willing to step in to fill the roles you would fill if they moved closer? If your desire to get them closer to you is based on needs they don’t actually have, then you can forego a lot of potential trouble by simply finding out what kind of help they have available where they are now.
3. Figure out the logistics of where they would live if they moved.
Would they be moving in with you or were you thinking of a senior living community nearby? The specifics of where they’d be living should play a role in the conversation as well since that will affect the cost of moving them closer and what the experience will be for both of you.
4. Find out what your loved one most wants.
This isn’t a decision you can make without their input. Find out how they feel about the idea and what concerns they have about moving, as well as any concerns they have about living on their own where they are now.
5. Research local churches and organizations nearby that could fill in for some of what they’re leaving behind.
If your loved one devotedly goes to church every Sunday, look into the local churches that most closely resemble theirs. If they volunteer at a museum they love, research the museums in your area to see if there’s one that’s similar. Leaving behind the activities they love will be easier if they know they’re coming to a place where they can pick up similar ones.
6. Research options available to make staying where they are safer.
If safety’s your main concern, there are a few things you can do to make aging in place safer. Some simple home modifications can alleviate a lot of the risks of living alone as a senior. Medical alert systems can ensure loved ones know immediately when a senior has a medical emergency. Finally, electronic medication dispensers can help your loved one make sure they’re taking the right meds at the right time each day.