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A Family Decision

When is the right time for your loved ones to move
into a Senior Retirement Community?

All across the country, senior retirement communities offer a safe and healthy alternative to staying at home. It can be difficult, however, to know the right time to make a move into such a community. Family members looking to find their parents a new home often struggle with this decision. A recent national housing industry survey of adults 75 and older revealed that the primary reason for moving into a senior retirement community was seniors having difficulty getting around their homes in a safe manner. But, beyond that, how do you know when it’s time to move?

It goes without saying that everybody wants to keep their independent way of life intact for as long as possible. But if one starts to need specific assistance with such basics as driving, taking care of the lawn, cooking, staying hydrated, or maintaining the home, it might be time to consider alternatives.

The very idea of having that conversation can be terrifying for everyone involved. But it might not be as bad as you think. First, get your loved one to understand that they need help with certain things which you can’t always provide. Their health and safety are paramount, so you want the absolute best for them as the years pass. Often, the loved one realizes they can no longer continue the way they’ve been living. If it is pointed out lovingly and gently that all of you have arrived at a place where a change needs to be made so the next phase of life can go smoothly, the loved one usually understands.

The first question will be “What are the alternatives?” (Click here to read a post that outlines the options.) Be ready with a number of answers, always pointing out how each alternative will help your loved one in the next phase of life. Small steps such as these often turn out to be big strides and soon you’ll be successful in getting them the help they need and finding the perfect living arrangement.

Can your loved one continue to stay at home? It is certainly a possibility if they have the help they now require in the form of caregivers, housekeepers, etc. Just make sure it works for all involved and still allows you time and energy to tend to your own life.  Also, check to see that the expense of keeping your loved one at home with all the help they need is cost effective.

Driving is a major component of one’s independence. Nothing promotes the idea of freedom more than being able to hop in your car and go wherever it is you want and need to get to. If that liberty is taken away, the results might not be…pleasing, to say the least. But sometimes it has to be done.

Driver Rehabilitation Specialists make a career of assessing whether current drivers should still be on the road. To be assessed is not a required legal process, but it’s a handy tool for anyone that needs it. An assessor administers a driving test and an eye exam, the results of which will determine if you should really be on the road. To locate a qualified assessor in your area, you can contact your doctor for a referral or the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED). The Department of Motor Vehicles or the local AAA can also administer a driving test. Just be aware that if the results of the test turn out to be negative, your loved one’s license could be revoked.

Having the “Talk”

So how do you tell your parents or loved one that it’s time to move? First and foremost, you want to be as non-threatening as you can. The tone of voice makes a big difference here. Be as loving as you can because this is a tough conversation to have. Explain why you are concerned. Your concern should also be their concern. You’ve noticed that many aspects of how they drive have changed, and you can even give specific examples. Understand that your loved one may react in a negative way—it’s only natural given the givens. Don’t be surprised if you have to broach this topic a number of times before the reality of what you are saying sinks in.

If you’re unable to make much headway, another option is bringing your loved one to visit the doctor. Let the doctor know ahead of time why you need his help in this matter. Sometimes, if the news comes from a qualified expert outside of the family, the words mean much more and the message is taken to heart. If all else fails, know that doctors can file a report with the state that says that your loved ones are no longer fit to drive a car.

Whatever you ultimately decide to do concerning this complex situation, know that, even if your loved one’s reaction is negative at first, they should eventually understand that this is the best thing for everyone concerned.

The ideal situation is to find a place that is just like home but offers all the services and amenities needed to gracefully age in place. If something were to happen, there would be staff on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, who could tend to the situation. It’s important to note that this very detail has saved many lives. Interestingly enough, most adults over the age of 50 find that their current home would not meet their needs as they age. If they do decide to make a change, the property they move to needs to be just as good as home, or better.

We Can Help

Spectrum Retirement Communities provides a host of helpful information on this and many other topics when it comes to finding a loved one’s next home. From Spectrum’s professional advisors to our complimentary Spectrum Community DVD, to the informative Caregiver’s Library that each of Spectrum’s community’s offers as a public resource, we are here to help. Call the Spectrum community near you or click here for more information.