My parents are 85 and 86. How do I begin the conversation about moving in with an adult child if one of them dies?


Parents are new yorkers. I live in Mass. My sister takes care of them financially and would continue. I am the other daughter living in Mass with two sons and husband. My sister would help create a space and pay. my parents have no money. they were affluent but lost it. long story. I am willing to take it on . If one dies the other(prob my mom) would live with us. HOw do you begin conversation.? They would lose social network but we cant afford nursing home or private care. How do I begin cionversation with my husbandf and my mom?

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Violinsky, its hard to think of why you cannot bring this up to me. Havent you all discussed "wills, trusts, POA's, health care proxy's?" yet by now? I said to my parents, "if anything happens to one of you, I want you to know that I will be here to take care of who is left." My Dad took a deep breath and said "honey you know how how great you just made me feel!" And wouldnt you know, he died, Mom got alzheimers/dementia and she has been with my husband and I for 6 years now. I even retired early because her money ran out, but hey, its my Mom and she was/is a great one! Start to open up, they probably want you to. good luck
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Old people are like trees, and uprooting big trees is not usually successful. Remember they have a social network of friends where they are now and only your sister to amuse them in a new place. Any talk of death and relocation will be very upsetting to them; cross that bridge when you get to it.
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Yikes! What was I thinking? Also very important: how old are your sons? Don't forget the potential impact on them; consult them meaningfully if it's appropriate for their age. My kids love their granny, are close to her and take time to visit her specially; but for one thing they're grown adults, no longer living at home, and for another I know that not all children are as comfortable around very elderly people as mine happened to be from an early age.
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Husband first, opening with "Before I even think about mentioning this to anyone else, I'd like to know what you would feel about [name] coming to live with us if [he/she] were left alone in the future." - and make it clear you're not expecting him to know what he feels there and then.

So you won't know what conversation you'll be having with your parents until after you've heard from your husband. But do start the thinking process now, while it's all still hypothetical. If you leave it until it's real, you'll all be trying to make decisions under pressure and in completely uncharted waters.

In our case, my partner and I were already planning to sell our respective houses and move together to the countryside, which meant moving 100+ miles further away from my mother's then home. So she knew there was change in the air. We decided together to invite her to move with us, so that from the start we'd be looking for a house that had space for everyone. Even so, I was surprised that she agreed immediately. I really don't think she'd been waiting for or expecting the suggestion; I think it's more that she didn't know what to do about managing her old age and was relieved that we'd come up with a solution.

Is she happy now? It's hard to say whether it was the right choice for her. She misses London (not tired of life yet then!), but I think it's not so much the change of location as the change in herself that she regrets. She couldn't have afforded to live in sheltered or residential care there, and she would have been very much on her own; but she minds not being able to get on a bus and go to a matinée, or pop down to a 24-hour supermarket, that kind of thing. It helped us that she lived in a 3-storey town house and was already beginning to find it difficult to manage.

I don't know... But do try to have this conversation while both of your parents can be involved: they'll each be thinking about the other's welfare, which means pride is less likely to be a complicating factor.

One caveat: your husband and you should both make very sure you know what you're letting yourselves in for before you even mention this idea to your parents. My partner and I didn't think things through well enough, and sadly our relationship hasn't proved equal to the challenge. No blame attached, I'm not complaining; but the way things developed, having said from the beginning that I wouldn't be attempting this if I were on my own… I am on my own. He tried, he did his best, but in the end he didn't care quite enough to cope and it was making him miserable. Think through everything, lay down your ground rules, prepare for the worst, hope for the best - and then see if it still looks like a good idea. Best of luck.
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First answer for yourself, why you want to have this conversation. It's great that you are thinking through possible eventualities; you'll be better prepared if they happen. Perhaps preparing like this is your (very reasonable) way to deal with your own anxiety about the future. And there's a (very understandable) desire to get other people on board so it seems all set. But you can't nail down the future, and other people in this story may be fully occupied with dealing with the present! So, do get your ducks in a row; but if you want to talk to the others, be empathic about THEIR anxieties rather than try to get them onto a plan to satisfy your own: Be truly curious about their feelings, what they're thinking about, how they're feeling about the present and the future. In that context, your ideas may be a relief to them too. But if their current coping mechanisms include "Why plan for an eventuality I don't want to think about that may never happen?", let them be. Just keep getting yourself informed, so you yourself can be flexible and smart when whatever happens, happens. The future may surprise you too.
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Just as in child-rearing, we take steps and then reassess. Many things can happen between now and the time one of your parents passes away.

The conversation amongst our family members started six years ago when I said, "What if Mom came to stay with us for a few months?" Mom was housebound and was becoming introverted. My younger sister packed a large suitcase for her and helped her onto the plane in Indiana. At Austin's airport, I met someone who looked like a shell of the vibrant mom I'd always known. Within weeks, though, the transformation we all saw in her when she was no longer alone in her own home was nothing but miraculous. She became part of our family life ... helping in the kitchen, folding laundry, attending church with us, going for short walks, shopping.

She then began rotating among four of her five remaining children and did so for five years. All of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren got to know her well.

As of February, though, she's no longer rotating around the country. It was either off to a nursing home or move permanently with my husband and me. She's with us.

This worked so well for all involved. My sister, who lived a mile from Mom for 17 years, was given a reprieve from the non-stop responsibilities, and the rest of us had the opportunity to love on Mom.

Mom is now in stage 6 of Alzheimer's disease and requires regular assistance.

I have an amazing husband who has a huge capacity for loving and caring for others. At this point, though, I'd say he's sacrificing, as he retired a month before she came last winter; he had hopes we'd be foot-loose-and-fancy-free at this time in our lives. If I notice a change in him, we'll reassess. I married him. He comes first.

Violinsky, take a small step when circumstances change and see where the path leads. Everyone in your family may reap the benefits, which often are born of sacrificial giving. Hugs!
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