Moving Aging Parents, Mother’s Move, Part II: Where?

This March 12, 2010 New York Times article, Deciding on Care for Elderly Parents in Declining Health, made me think about the process my husband and I experienced with his mother following a stroke. This is the second of several posts describing our journey.  Read Part I of Mother’s Move     Part III      Part IV

Preparing to Talk With Mother About a Move

In February 2008, after much soul-searching, we realized that one of our aging parents, my husband’s mother, could no longer live independently. Our decision to recommend a move to her was made with care and attention to detail and with commitment to preserving her self-respect. But before we initiated any discussion with Mother, we endlessly tinkered with our plan so that it gave her some options.

Mother’s Hilton Head, South Carolina retirement community featured independent living as well as long and short-term nursing care; however, no assisted living was available. As independent living became increasingly difficult, many people stayed in their homes with around-the-clock assistance. Some, but not all, eventually moved to the nursing facility. Other residents left the club-like campus to move to one of the nearby assisted living communities, or they relocated to be closer to children.Because we had periodically hired home health aides to stay with Mother at night, we knew how expensive it would be for her to stay in her condo with full-time health aides so we eliminated that as an option.

We also knew how much Mother loved South Carolina with its mild climate, and also how she loved living near her brother and sister-in-law. So we seriously investigated three assisted living communities within a few miles of her condo. All three offered small apartments, various tiers of assistance, and warm and friendly staffs. Moreover Mother knew a few people who were living at each place. The biggest disadvantage of the South Carolina assisted living facilities was the distance from our home — more than a day’s drive.

Distance turned out to be the deciding factor. We determined that once we packed her up, disposed of furniture, and sold the condo, a local move might mean that sometime down the road Mother might have to move yet again — something we wanted to avoid. We also knew that we wanted to spend time with Mother, more time than would be available if she stayed put on the southeastern coast.

Thus in the end we decided to talk with Mother about moving to live near our home.

On our next visit we arrived with information about Chesterbrook Residences, maps that showed Mother how close it was to our house, pictures that demonstrated how similar it was to where she was currently living, and lists of area activities that we loved (and we knew she loved) — movies, symphony concerts, restaurants, plays, military bands, and much more. We also mentioned the local assisted living communities in Hilton Head and out thoughts about them.

To our amazement Mother immediately agreed to make the move to live near us. She knew, just as we knew, that her independent living situation was no longer working and that she needed additional support.

Next: Part III, Getting Stated with the Relocation Details     Read Part I about Mother’s Move     Part III     Part IV

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