16 Questions for Family Discussion to Assess Timing of Any Move
The most important goals in communication are to always safe-guard the relationship and to always seek to fully understand other’s perspective before beginning dialog.
Try asking your spouse or your parents some of the following questions to start a dialog on this topic.
1. How many times do you want to move?
Might want to move to a one level home or condo, then move elsewhere later or maybe move into a Continuing Care Community where all levels of care are available and no other moves are needed.
2. How much space do you actually need?
One bedroom, a living room and a kitchenette might be enough or it might be too small at this time. Remember you would also have use of the common areas at your new location, such as guest suite, private dining room, a library, exercise facilities, etc.
3. Is home maintenance causing worry or stress?
Look at what will have to be maintained or even replaced if they stay where they are
for the next few years. “At what point is it no longer worth trying to keep it up?” How would
you know when it is time to move to something that is not a burden?
4. Do you have safety concerns?
How would you describe your physical capacity? Do the stairs present a difficulty either up
to the bedroom or down to the laundry in the basement? Do you climb a ladder to store things in the attic or the garage? The goal is to make a change before an accident happens.
5. Are you still comfortable with your neighborhood?
Has the two-lane street become a four-lane highway? Or maybe too much neglect has reduced the quality of the neighborhood. What has changed around you?
6. Do you expect to live with your children?
Every family will have their definite opinion about this. For some, even though they may wish they could do this, it is impossible. Be sure you talk openly and kindly about these things.
7. Are you concerned about being a burden to your children, family or friends?
What would being a “burden” look like to you? How strongly would you want to avoid this? Rate your feelings on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest.
8. Who is your support system?
If there was an emergency, who would you call? Could your spouse really deal with it or would you need other close family members? How quickly could they come? Where do they live? Would moving closer be a pro-active thing to do?
9. What if you could no longer drive?
How would this impact your social, recreational and doctor appointment needs? Would that indicate that it is time to move?
10. If something happened to either one of you, what would that mean for your spouse?
Would the surviving spouse be capable and comfortable in managing the home alone?
11. How important to you is it that you make your own choices?
If it is important to you, make those choices before you are unable to make those choices. Important choices are: 1) Who do you want to have your precious, sentimental and sometimes valuable items? 2) Who would you want to have the power of attorney? 3) If you had to be moved to a assisted living or skilled nursing location, which one would you choose based on your financial reality? If you want to stay in as much control as possible, making these choices ahead of time is mandatory.
12. How attached are you to your “stuff”?
Where would you begin reducing the quantity? Where would you want to give your
larger or extra items that will not be needed in the downsizing? Sometimes a professional organizer can help with the sorting.
13. How important is it to be located near children or family?
Rate that importance on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. Which adult child or family member is most capable and available to serve your needs in times of decreasing abilities? Do you need to make a move now to be closer to them?
14. If left alone, can you maintain your current lifestyle?
Explore some “what ifs” options of what might fit best for the remaining spouse. Would they be able physically and financially to maintain their current living location?
15. Would you prefer to make a lifestyle transition by yourself, as the remaining spouse, or do it together as a couple while you are able?
Maybe you think, we’ll just wait. If something happens to one of us, then the other one can cross that bridge when they come to. If you make the move together, then the other one isn’t left alone to deal with all the “stuff” and the transition. Even if you choose not to make any move together, what actions can you take now to make that transition go more smoothly for the remaining spouse, such as clean out the closets, give away some large items that would never fit in a downsized location,
have certain rooms painted, etc.
16. Is it increasing difficult to get out and socialize or to drive at night?
Has your evening socializing reduced over the last few years due to poorer night vision? Do you spend more and more time watching TV? Do you go to few interesting events lately? Do you have nothing to talk about because you are not taking in any new information or experiences?
Knowing what loved ones think on these issues gives insight into what and when future actions might need to be. The interaction support is so valuable for them not to feel abandoned.
Summarized by Carol Nevin of Axelson Realty, Northbrook – 847-271-2711
From the book: “Senior Housing 101, Your Basic Field Guide to Understanding Today’s Complex Senior Housing Market” by Randalynn Kaye.
See her website at http://www.Elder-Transitions.com