Adult Children with Aging Parents

Tom Brezsny
- Tom Brezsny

Adult Children with Aging Parents

We’re talking about the growing number of adult children who are trying to help their aging parents move out of the home they’ve lived in for thirty or forty years. Where to start?

It goes without saying, leaving a longtime home is a daunting task. Even more so, when folks are in their 80s and 90s and wrestling with the entire spectrum of worries that come along with aging. For them, moving most often feels like an existential threat.

Things are frequently in crisis mode by the time the children get involved. There aren’t always a lot of choices left. Other than to react to the barrage of issues that just seem to keep coming. There’s no time to take a breath or figure out how to move forward strategically or proactively.

Yes, it’s partly about the complicated logistics involved with selling a house. Hiring an agent. Getting the place ready. Dealing with deferred maintenance. Deciding what to do with all the stuff. But it isn’t just about those things…

Try learning the nuances of the real estate process at the same time you’re trying to understand the complexities of medicare, long term health coverage, trust documents, tax planning, different options for assisted living or memory care and how to work peacefully with your own siblings. Specially when you’ve got a job and a life of your own!

Having worked with many families over the years going through these kinds of transitions, here are a few suggestions:

Don’t Delay: Everyone says it. But it isn’t until you’re in crisis mode that you really appreciate the wisdom. You could have started planning sooner. Having those discussions. Researching the choices. Understanding the process. Start now. Get a plan even if you’re already behind.

Talk Out Loud: It’s easy to avoid difficult discussions about aging. But they aren’t any easier after someone gets sick. And moving isn’t easier when there isn’t a choice. We’re all aging. Change is the only thing that’s certain. Why not talk about it?

Stuff is the Hardest: I see it all the time. Getting a house ready to sell takes about a month. Getting a house full of stuff ready often takes six to eight months. If you are thinking about a move next year or the year after, start dealing with stuff now. The path is easier to walk when you’re carrying less baggage.

Trust and Verify: If there’s no living  trust, create one. If there’s already one in place, review it immediately. It’s a transgenerational planning tool that offers the perfect excuse to discuss everything: assets, taxes, legacy questions, health care options, funeral arrangements and how the decision-making process should work when the time comes. 

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