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Thread summary:

Senior moving: movers, retirement community, buy property, condo, apartment.

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Old 07-06-2008, 09:20 PM
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I chuckle about "things" and "stuff".

My parents lived through the Great Depression. They kept everything (and I mean everything!) because "You never know when you might need it and not be able to afford to buy it."

Telling them that if they needed it one of the kids would buy it for them was a no.

My father died in 1980 and my mother in 1981. It took us about two weeks to clean out the house.

I chuckle because in amongst all those things they didn't really need were some very beautiful things that we never really seemed to "see" or even knew about until we were forced to pay attention to them. These were things that were always there in my life.

My mother collected over 3000 books (she read every one of them), had gardens full of beautiful and unusual plants, a collection of USSR magazines that were very entertaining, and some very beautiful glassware including depression glass and very nice china. My father had a great assortment of tools, and his own collection of books.

A great deal of these items were unknown to the family because they were stored away or kept in boxes.

Knowing my mother I would say that if the finances were available and she could have had a garden, taken her books and some favorite glassware with, she would have moved and been much happier the last year of her life. A large house was just too much.
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Old 07-07-2008, 01:26 AM
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I've gone thru this with my parents first and then my wifes mother. IMO you need to discuuss your concerns. But then you have to for better or worse let them come to the conclusion that they can't continue life as they have known it.They have to know you are there if they make the decision. Usually it takes a event for them to realise that they can't keep the life as they have known it going. That really helps with their accepting the change and IMO they will be happier and live longer.I can't really agree with the professional advise;many will use too much logic. What seems logical and best is often more convenience how days and only seems a solution.When you hear seniors say they would rather die than lose their independance they are not lying.
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Old 07-07-2008, 10:45 AM
Location: Oxygen Ln. AZ
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We adopted my mom several years ago, she is 93 this September. It was very hard combining two families while we still had all three kids living at home. We tried to be very diplomatic when it came time for the big move to AZ and had to part with many of our things. It is very hard to help them understand that some things can go and some simply cannot. Broken furniture was not on the list. Maybe you could hire someone to come and do some of the heavy work for them if they really want to stay on their farm? Hard choices ahead for you. Best wishes
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Old 07-07-2008, 05:27 PM
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As a recent retiree and someone who has downsized, my feeling is that because they constantly bring the subject up to you, they might possibly want you to take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and make the decision for them. I would start collecting brochures and information on possible places for them to relocate near you. They could be trying to judge your reaction to them moving near you, as they don't want to burden you. Since they are so overwhelmed, I think you should take the lead finding locations for them to move. Then tell them when you will be arriving to start the downsizing process.
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Old 07-07-2008, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by bsnyder98 View Post
... One day they want to do it and the next they panic and don't want to...I am afraid of what will happen as they get older and are "forced" to leave. ...Are most people who move and downsize happy with the decision or do they miss "home" and regret it? I certainly don't want to push them into something they don't want but most of the time when we talk about it THEY bring it up. HELP!!...
My mother was the same way. Back and forth for years before she made the decision. She regrets it, but it was inevitable: Neither she nor I nor my sister could afford to do all the work her house needed just so she could be warm and have a roof that didn't leak.

Long story short: My mother regretted it for years, didn't like her apt but wouldn't move out of that either. Now she has started hinting that it is our fault for making her get rid of many of her belongings and says they would have fit in her apt, neither of which is true.

But here's the thing: What's your parents' personalities? Do they roll with the punches? Are they adventurous? Are they accepting of life and just keep on keepin' on? You see, my mother is a complainer and always a victim of something or other. She's never happier than when she's complaining. No decision is ever the right decision for her. That's why we always let her make her own decisions (not that it would matter). But I think people who generally enjoy life and move ungrudgingly thru the stages of life know and accept the decisions that have to be made and move on. My mother is not that type. If your parents are, then they probably will not have regrets when it's time to move on.

There has to be an epiphany. For my mother, it was the day she discovered she could no longer clean windows by herself. She didn't care that the roof leaked and the windows were falling out. It was the fact that she couldn't wash them anymore that convinced her she had to move. Your parents need an epiphany; then, if they have "normal" personalities, they can move on and be fine with the decision. Just my two cents...
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:21 AM
Location: Monterey Bay, California -- watching the sea lions, whales and otters! :D
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I am afraid of what will happen as they get older and are "forced" to leave. (two foot surgeries and a pacemaker already this year) I just don't know what to do to help and I don't want to see them be miserable for however many years they have left.

Does anyone have any advice or experience with this? Are most people who move and downsize happy with the decision or do they miss "home" and regret it? I certainly don't want to push them into something they don't want but most of the time when we talk about it THEY bring it up. HELP!!
What great questions and very thought-provoking. As a single woman who is trying to retire in a couple of years (financial reasons why I don't do it earlier), I realize that my property is much too large for me to handle anymore.

I recently had a realtor over to discuss my putting my house on the market -- she recommended waiting until Spring. As we got to talking, I told her that I had bought the house from a woman who was in her 80s and had fallen off the roof while sweeping it. She ended up in a nursing home as a result of her injuries and died two years later. I never felt like this was "my" home, but rather hers. (I had also met her before the accident, and lived nearby.)

The realtor then began to tell me stories of more people she personally knew of who, when older, fell off roofs, too, one another woman who died immediately from her fall! I thought that maybe I was being a wimp about thinking of downsizing and leaving my home in the country, until she related tales that confirmed my own inner feelings.

My daughter is only in college, so she is still young, however, I have been encouraging her to help me to get the house ready to sell, and to clear things out. Although I realize that it is inevitable that I must move, I have great sadness at doing so. In fact, this past weekend I spent many hours in the warm evening walking the property and with many tears "saying 'good-bye'" to my home. I walked around and "talked" to the beautiful tropical flowers, smelled their sweet fragrance, picked a lemon, carried a tomato from my garden with me, and walked through the ferns and jasmine saying "good-bye" to each feature of my home. It was very cathartic. Maybe that is something to help them to do -- say "good-bye" in a way that they know it has served them well, that the memories are there, and take lots of photos, maybe an album of photos and memories to cherish.

If they are bringing the subject up, I am sure they are aware that there should be a change, and although no one likes the fact that they are growing older, it really helps to have someone else validate your feelings and to help them, just as a mother bird must push her babies from the nest.

I would guess that the exhaustion of caring for a large place, the lack of energy that comes with age, and the fear of what a new place/town/home might be like could easily immobilize them.

Find the things they love, try to find places that may suit them, and if you can, take a few trips to explore. Let them feel emotional about their home -- it has been good to them. When I was in tears with the realtor about talking about selling my home (it is on a beautiful piece of property in the redwoods), I said, "I don't know why I feel so attached to this place -- I know I have to leave because I just can't care for it anymore, but I never expected to feel so emotional." And she was very sweet and said, "Because you raised your daughter here." She was right -- it was that very personal, emotional connection.

Because you are family, and you probably shared in that home, perhaps also sharing how you are happy in a different place, and why the change was good for you, might allow them a glimpse into how it could be in a different place.

It does sound like they may want you to be the one to take the first step and lead them on their way. I was in a very sad situation in the past where I just felt I could not make a decision on my own, and someone came in to help me do so. I felt frozen with indecision, and I was so relieved to have someone recognize that I needed to make a change, and saw the path, and led me on it. I needed someone to help me take that first step. Perhaps it is time for you to gently let them say their goodbyes to their home, to gather their memories collectively in a physical way, and to "thank" their home for the wonderful times they have had and how it has served them so well.

It seems like they are ready in their own way -- but maybe acknowledgement about the past, about remembering how looking toward the future used to be exciting, and that there is still life left in them, and that it can be a happy change.

Be gentle with them, confirm that they know it is best, yet, you understand how difficult it is. Share the memories you hold of it, and how much you care for them, and their well-being. Let them know that wherever they go, they will still carry themselves with them, and all their love and memories. The most important things about where they now live, will still remain with them -- their feelings and memories.

You are a good daughter to think so highly of your parents and want to help them during this chapter of their lives. I wish you good luck!

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Old 07-09-2008, 04:36 AM
Location: Backwoods of Maine
7,118 posts, read 8,163,742 times
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Originally Posted by bsnyder98 View Post
All they do now is work on the place just trying to keep everything up and they complain about it all the time.
I agree that they have to be the ones to make the decision. Too many younger folk assume that after age 65, or 70, or 75 (which is it?) people's powers of reason decline. Not so (in most cases). They are perfectly capable of deciding this for themselves; in fact, they are still perfectly capable of downsizing on their own by hiring professionals to help. For some reason, they do not want to. And here's where you should take your cue.

It could well be that the "work" they do on the place is not so much a burden as an activity that keeps them moving and fitter than they would be just sitting around admiring the scenery! If they "complain all the time" it could just be due to getting older - or, it could be due to some notions thay have that they are no longer capable, when they might be. It isn't just the younger generations who think aging = decrepitude! Older folks have this idea as well, and they get it from TV and who-knows-where.

My mom lived in her house till the last. She never got rid of a thing. In fact, she continued to buy more! That kept her happy for awhile, though it caused more work for my brother and myself afterwards. But mom wanted her independence so badly, that when she sensed she would lose it for health reasons, she passed within a couple of weeks. Note what I just said: she passed quickly for fear of losing her independence, NOT due to her health problems (which were fixable).

We have to stop treating the elderly like children. Sometimes if they have Alzheimer's or some such, then yes - they need to be cared for. But it sounds like your folks are fine for now. All this agonizing is wasted time and effort. If they wish to be indecisive, let 'em be indecisive. You might want to explore the option of having a handyman or some other non-threatening person who lives near them, stop in weekly or daily or whenever they wish (they, not you) just to give a sense of help being available if they need it.

A life/retirement of world travel, living in a senior community, and having an active social lifestyle are not for everyone. I know I'd hate it! Your folks need to know from you that they will be free to make their own decisions. Once they are secure with that knowledge, they will make their own decisions. Be there to help, to support, but not to decide. Life (and eventually, death) will do the coaxing. You won't need to.
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:00 AM
Location: Connecticut
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There has been a tremendous amount of very wise advice given here. The problem is so challenging - how can i help without taking over?

My parents finally made the move to assisted living only when the handwriting was on the wall. And now that they have moved to a very expensive (and nice) CCRC in Florida, they both wish that they had followed the advice they got from each of their 7 children to move to a similar facility up north, where they could be close to 4 of the 7 (nobody is close in Florida).

I read a quote from a Dartmouth gerontologist who says essentially everyone wants to remain in the home, thinking they will be the ones who can tough it out on their own. The reality is that almost everyone who lives to be 80 years old will eventually need a lot of help in their daily living - but just like adolescents driving cars, they think they will be the lucky ones.

I see it over and over, the drive in most people to stay where they are is so strong that unless the person/couple has a big scare, they wait too long. Here is an article i wrote on advice for a child who has a parent who needs to move to assisted living.
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