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Mistakes Adult Children Make When Helping Aging Parents Choose a Senior Community

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helping-aging-parentsWhether you are helping a parent who is still independent or looking for new housing options due to a “crisis” situation, it sometimes  feels as if the role of parent and child have been reversed.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the process of finding a senior community and lose sight of your true goal – a home that will be safe and happy for your loved one.

In order to achieve that goal, it’s important to look at some of the mistakes that others have made and try to avoid those for you and your parent.  Here are a few things to think about:

Look at your parent’s budget first.
Make sure the places you choose to visit fall within your parent’s (or your) budget requirements before you visit.  There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a community only to learn it is way above what you can afford.  It can make an already difficult process worse.

Remember that this will be your parent’s home, not yours.
You may love the brand new, modern community with the on-site spa and wine bar but that may not be your parent’s taste.  He or she might rather be in a more traditionally decorated place with gardens and daily bridge tournaments.  It’s important to talk to your parents and find out what is most important to them in a community.  Take them along when you visit communities and keep them involved in the decision-making process.

Keep both current and future health and mobility needs in mind.
Your parent may be perfectly healthy and active right now.  Concerns such as medication management and assistance with daily activities may not be top of mind.  You do need to consider, though, that  they may need these types of services in the future.  As you visit communities, you need to consider both current and future needs. Find out what will happen if health needs change.  Does the community have a higher level of care or will your loved one have to go elsewhere when those needs arise?  If they need to move, where will they go?  It’s not an easy thing to predict, but it is something to talk to your parent about so that you are both on the same page, especially if something should change suddenly.

Don’t decide too quickly.
Don’t sign a lease at the first place you visit.  Even if you and your parent are both in love with the place, it’s wise to take some time and look around at your options.  Take tours, ask questions, enjoy a meal, and visit with other residents.   Go online and read reviews.  It’s so important that your loved one is comfortable in every way – physically and socially.  You should plan to visit at least 3 places before making a decision. Weigh the pros and cons and decide together which one feels most like “home.”  (Note that it is a good idea to go ahead and get on the waiting list if there are no current vacancies.  You can always pass if you’ve found something else you love when an apartment comes available but some communities can have long waiting lists)

Don’t choose a place strictly on convenience.
It’s very tempting to choose the community that is closest to your home or office.  While it’s great to have mom or dad close by, it shouldn’t be the primary consideration.  You should plan for family to visit but it’s also important for your parent to have time to make friends and get involved in the activities offered by the community.   Your visits should be spaced to allow for and encourage this socialization.  It’s vital for helping new residents feel like part of the community.

The most important thing to do, even in a crisis situation, is to spend some time formulating a plan.  Involve your parent and discuss all the options.  It will help ease some of the stress and you’ll feel better about the move knowing that you didn’t make a rash decision.

If you need help finding a senior community, our online directory of Dallas/Fort Worth Senior Living Communities can help.   You can also give us a call at 817-330-9235.  We have great relationships with several communities in the area and we would love to introduce you to them!

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