Approaching the topic of moving a loved one from their home into an adult community or retirement home can be a tricky conversation to start; even just the transition part can be challenging. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be – if you know how to prepare. Here are some simple tactics to start a conversation with a family member and make the transition a smooth one:
1) Deciding it’s time to transition.
This might be the most sensitive part – making the decision. It will likely be the easiest on everyone if your family member comes to this conclusion on their own. More likely, though, you’ve reached a decision and your family member initially disagrees. It’s normal to wonder if you’re making the right choice – if you’re sure, a very important next step is to take action. The longer your loved one stays in their current housing situation, the more probable it is that a crisis, like a fall or other emergency, could occur and increase the urgency of the move. It will be easier to transition your loved one during calm times than in the midst of a crisis. Helping your parent decide (if they’re of the right state of mind to do so), will make the transition easier on everyone.
2) Choosing a retirement community.
There are lots of factors that come into play when considering a St. Louis retirement community – weather, amenities, price, activities, and proximity to family and friends. Consider all of these factors and decide which ones are the most important. Also, think through medical care.
- Does the community provide medical services?
- If they’re not on-site, how far away is health care?
- Are in-home health services available and do local physicians make house calls?
If a retirement community in a place like St. Louis doesn’t quite fit your family, maybe another Missouri big city could be a great option. Homes in walkable cities like Boston, New York, and San Francisco can be pricey, but they've proven to show value with built-in advantages such as health care services, public transit and an abundance of things to do. If your family member can be engaged throughout this process, keep them involved. If they find a community they like, visit it a few times, each during a different time of day to get a feel for the sense of community and activities.
What kinds of activities do Missouri communities tend to offer? Typically, you’ll be able to find activities like golf, tennis, and swimming, but make sure the activities are aligned with your family member’s interests.
3) Downsizing possessions.
Once you’ve decided on a Missouri community, chances are that your loved one is going to need to downsize their belongings before transitioning to a new home. Work with your family member to choose which household and personal items will move to their new home. Keep in mind that it may be difficult for them to part with treasures accumulated over a lifetime, so try to stay positive, sensitive, and willing to compromise where possible.
4) Get used to the community, then relocate.
Depending on how far away the retirement home is from their current home, your family may need to acclimate first; especially if you’re looking at locations outside of Missouri; like Arizona, Florida, and Southern California. Your family member may want to consider renting a temporary living space for a few weeks in the off-season before making a commitment.
Allow some time for your loved one to warm up to their new community. Spend some time greeting current and prospective community members. These new peers will be your family member's new neighbors – these people may have a bigger impact on their life than they might initially expect.
5) Plan something to do during your first few visits.
To make your first few visits to your family member’s new Missouri community enjoyable and comfortable, plan something for all of you to do together. Have your loved one show you around, enjoy a nice meal, or just enjoy some quiet one-on-one time.
6) Keep in contact, but don't overdo it.
Finding a balance between visiting regularly but not too often will take some time. Stay in contact with your loved one to make sure they know you’re still thinking about them and that you love them. A simple phone call or visit can make all the difference during a difficult transition. When things have calmed down, allow the time and space to for your loved ones to explore the community on their own and make new friends.
Thinking about making the transition but not sure you know how to broach the subject? Get in touch with your local realty expert for more guidance on how to have the conversation and what the process will involve. If you're ready to move forward with the sale of your loved one's Missouri home, don't forget to check out these helpful local tips.