In the best of cases, moving can stir up emotions, but when the move concerns parents who can no longer care for themselves, financial advisors say that both boomers and their parents should be ready for unexpected feelings to surface.
In the last of a three-part series, National Underwriter looks at what boomers should consider when dealing with their parents’ and their own emotions surrounding a decision to relocate a parent.
Bedda D’Angelo, president, Fiduciary Solutions, Durham, N.C., starts out by saying she has seen “every imaginable solution” and “none is perfect.”
Even if it is obvious that a new living situation is needed, D’Angelo says “every elderly person I have ever known resists moving out of their home like the plague,” and typically, many become depressed when they are forced to start over.
She cites one family for which she had done planning that lived 300 miles from the parent. The mother’s neighborhood, according to D’Angelo, had deteriorated, with crime on the rise. Additionally, the mother’s walk-up flat was “in a state of gross disrepair.”
Her children moved her into a luxury assisted living facility, but the parent became very depressed, D’Angelo says, because “taking her away from her home and the network of people she had known all of her life was too big of an adjustment for her.”
D’Angelo says she believes the move could have played a role in her death.
Another case D’Angelo cites is one in which a daughter moved her mother into a luxury facility across the street from her home and visited her every day.
“Nevertheless,” according to D’Angelo, “her mother has never forgiven her for making her give up her home in New Jersey even though she desperately needed a car [to continue to live there.]“
D’Angelo says a parent’s anger can be assuaged if he or she has some choice over the solution.
She advises starting the discussion two to three years before a boomer thinks a transition will be needed because the elderly need more time to adjust to ideas. This shows that a child is looking at the parent’s need and not the child’s convenience.
One option that can work is if the parent lives in the same home but in a separate apartment, she says. Even if the parent actually lives in the boomer’s home, it can work, D’Angelo continues. But she cites two caveats: the entire family needs to offer input and the decision is not made out of guilt.
“One of the least favorite things for our clients is to move in with family. But, in some cases, it is unavoidable because they don’t have the funds,” says Cheryl Hancock, a certified financial planner with Rinehart & Associates, Charlotte, N.C. Others prefer options such as continuing care communities because this allows them to retain control of their own lives. The key, she says, is “to keep the power in their court. If they’re allowed to make decisions, it is a much less scary experience for the whole family.”