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Your Children are Not Too Old for THE TALK
Duncaster CCRC - Wednesday, October 12, 2016
BLOOMFIELD, CT, Oct. 4, 2016 -- While you may have had THE TALK with your children when they were teenagers, there’s another kind of conversation that often parents have as they get older. It’s THE TALK about moving to a retirement community.
What makes this Talk difficult is that many adult children may initially be uncomfortable about your decision to step up to a new lifestyle – away from the family home; in a setting where the needs of older adults are met and with a move that signifies you are getting older.
“Adult children sometimes aren’t comfortable with their parents’ decisions to look towards the future with this kind of a move,” says Carol Ann McCormick, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Duncaster. “For that reason, it’s important that older adults have a frank discussion with them about their interest in making the move to a retirement community.”
She offers these tips for having THE TALK with your children:
- Start with concrete observations. Adult children often don’t realize what it take to keep up a home and may not like the idea that you are ready to hand-off those responsibilities to someone else. A good way to approach this is to tell them that you no longer enjoy (or want) the responsibilities of maintaining the yard, the snow-covered driveway or the repairs involved in the upkeep of a home. Your kids may have happy memories of Dad doing yard work or Mom in the garden, so they may be unhappy that these things no longer bring you satisfaction. But, for many older adults, they’ve outgrown their interest in such chores.
- Bring in others who can help guide the discussion and ratify your decision. Professional advisors such as financial planners or attorneys can often contribute to the discussion. “These professionals can explain the positive outcomes of a decision to move to a retirement community such as financial stability, preservation of assets against the possible cost of long-term care and the peace of mind of knowing that the resources you’ll need are close at hand. These professionals have their fingers on a variety of alternatives and can help your children understand what they mean emotionally and financially.”
- Don’t assume they are against it. Older adults often make the mistake of thinking their children don’t want them to make any changes. “In fact, if you listen carefully, you might just find they are trying to engage you in that conversation. You might not realize it or you might actually be choosing to ignore it because it’s not what you expect,” says McCormick. “They might be bringing up things subtly like talking about their friends’ parents moving to retirement communities or asking you about downsizing. Don’t assume they’ll be against such a move.”
- Expect some adult children to be threatened by the idea of the move. “There are a number of reasons adult children don’t want to hear about your decision to move to a retirement community. You need to deal with them sympathetically but firmly,” says McCormick. “Maybe they don’t want to admit their parents are aging. Maybe it’s that they find the idea of their parents moving out of their family home upsetting. When adult children give you those kinds of clues, don’t dismiss them, but give them your reasons for the move.”
- Involve your children in planning their move. If your adult children can understand how your lifestyle will improve with change, they will be more likely to accept it. It’s important to remember that they need to be involved in making that change. “If you engage them in a conversation about the change and involve them in the next steps it will be easier on all of you,” advises McCormick.
- Give adult children a role in the move. Sometimes, adult children don’t want you to consider a change because of the prospect of dealing with the “stuff”. “We often find the proposition of having to sort through 35 years of stuff in the basement so daunting that they don’t want to deal with it,” says McCormick. “If you give them a role in that move – such a claiming what they really want for themselves or finding the resources for the disposal of what they don’t want, it’s helpful all around. Or, you can turn to an outside company to take the responsibility off your hands. Companies like Dutiful Daughters or 1-800 JUNK are in that business. Utilizing these resources can free up everyone in the family to move on with their lives.”
- Focus on what you’re getting with the move, not what you’re giving up. “Often when people are considering a move, they focus on what they are giving up – like the family home and the neighborhood they know. But that’s not the way to look at this kind of a change,” suggests McCormick. “You want your children to focus on what you’re getting with your new lifestyle; not what you’re giving up. This includes getting freedom from the burden of homeownership, getting the ability to socialize more often with people in a tight-knit community and getting access to intellectual and physical programs available for those who want them.”
- Take a business-like approach. “People plan their weddings. They plan when they’ll have children. They plan for negative outcomes by appointing a power of attorney. Yet, they often don’t plan where they’ll be living as they age, points out McCormick. “A good way to open the conversation with your children is “What would we, as a family, do if Dad’s health declined? Would you want to be responsible for taking care of him in your home or ours?’” she suggests.
- Tease out any of your children’s unsaid expectations about what they expect to happen as you age. There are often unspoken expectations between parents
and their adult children about their plan for the future. Some children really believe they’d want their parents to move in with them. “You may
need to let them know why you would find this unacceptable, despite their good intentions,” McCormick says. “It may fall to the parents to bring
this up with a comment like, ‘I’m not sure if you were expecting us to move in with you, but that could be a problem. Your house isn’t set up to
give you the kind of privacy that we would want.”
On the other hand, your children may have unrealistic expectations about what would be involved if you stayed in your home and brought in help to care for you in the event of a health issue. “For many, this is both an impractical and expensive solution,” suggests McCormick. “Managing in-home care is difficult and often time-consuming for either the older adult or the adult child. Making it work in the long-run is tough, and can be a full-time job in itself. Most people aren’t equipped to handle it in terms of the time and knowledge it takes.”
The key to opening up a discussion about the future is for parents to understand that their decision to move is something their adult children need to buy into. “Be sensitive to their concerns, open them up to the possibility that it’s time for you to make a change and be willing to work with them to come up with solutions together. Remember that this is your life and therefore the choices should be yours. Adult children can and should be involved, but they need to understand that ultimately this has to be you choice about what makes your future the most satisfying and fulfilling,” concludes McCormick. “You, as someone who loves and cares about them can open the door to this discussion, but in the end, the solution has to be something that makes you happy. It’s your future.”
Duncaster, the Hartford area’s first LifeCare community, is located minutes from West Hartford and Simsbury in Bloomfield CT. The Duncaster Community is celebrating its 35th anniversary and sits on 94 beautiful acres and offers options for senior adults seeking independent living, assisted living, memory care, rehab services, and longterm care. Duncaster was voted the Best Retirement Community by readers of Hartford Magazine, is CARF/CCAC certified, and rated 5-Star by the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services
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