All too often I meet with a baby boomer emotionally drained from the responsibility tied to a parent or parent’s immediate move due to a health change. None of us want to burden our children with decisions that in many cases could have been made while healthy and financially prepared. There are situations which are unavoidable such as a sudden death or a financial event that could not have been avoided. But my concern relates to folks I have met over the years who want to move, know they should move, yet stay in a home that is no longer working for them both physically (such as their parents’ declining health) and emotionally.
When a family enters into ‘crisis management’ due to an immediate health event, decisions have to be made quickly. The senior who has had a stroke or a broken hip from a fall must enter into the hospital or rehab center leaving their long time home unattended if there is no healthy partner still living in the property. Decisions often fall to a child who has been designated as a power of attorney or trustee for their parent and parent’s estate. When there are multiple children, this can cause undue stress among siblings, as not all agree when life changing decisions for their parent are made. When I meet with the child who has been given responsibility to help decide where mom or dad will spend the rest of their days as well as selling their home, and downsizing that home, you can just imagine the stress and sadness affecting that child.
First talk to your trusted advisor
The best advice I can give is to avoid crisis management by planning ahead. This may sound simple, but as we all know it is so difficult to accept change. When we are faced with decisions such as moving to a new community or apartment, our defense mechanisms kick in and we may fall into fear which then leads to procrastination. Information and self-examination is the best defense against crisis management! First talk to your trusted advisors to get an objective and loving sense of your current situation. If your children and friends have been telling you it may be time to find healthier surroundings than just maybe it is time to take a good look at your current situation. Are you living in a healthy and safe environment? Project five years out and be honest with yourself as to your health needs and safety. If you have a spouse, start a dialogue today. Take a ride to various senior communities with your family to see the many living options available. You will be pleasantly surprised as to the comfort and lively atmosphere offered by so many innovative communities.
Connecting to others is the best free medicine out there. Isolation is a leading cause to depression and stress. Start today by letting your children know that you want to be in charge of your life and where you will be in the coming years. Let them know that you are planning ahead so that they are not left with the burden of finding your new home, selling your existing home and downsizing a life’s accumulation of treasures. Meet with your financial consultants as to what you can afford if you do decide to move to a senior community or apartment. Take charge of your life today by making your own decisions for the future so that your children will not suffer the emotional and physical challenges of crisis management.