Is It Time To Have The Talk?
Experts at Buena Vida Estates offer advice for adult children on easing their parents’ transition to retirement community living
Discussing the retirement community option with parents is an agonizing task for many people. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, some 42 percent of adults between the ages of 45 to 65 cite the topic as the most difficult one to discuss with their parents. And 31 percent said the biggest communication obstacle is getting stuck in the parent-child roles of the past.
“As adult children, we are not only dealing with our parents’ aging issues, but those of ourselves as well. As we see our parents’ age, we automatically start seeing our own mortality. Decision making becomes increasingly more difficult since as adult children we don’t want to deal with the guilt of forcing Mom and Dad into something that they don’t want to do,” explains Don Spalding, a licensed gerontologist and executive director of Buena Vida Estates, a not-for-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in West Melbourne.
Spalding suggests developing a partnership approach through honest and direct conversations. “From my personal experience, visiting various housing options and openly discussing the pros and cons of each is the best tactic to take,” he says. “Educate with your mind and speak from your heart.”
Bruce Rosenblatt, a senior housing expert and vice president at Buena Vida Estates, explains that adult children need to understand that there could be other dynamics causing resistance.
“Dealing with the memories of the house is another issue,” he says. “For some, this is a daunting task and something that becomes harder in time. Unfortunately, it never gets easier. It is much better to work together with your parents and help them select cherished items for their new home.”
Planning ahead before something catastrophic occurs is another critical element. “Noah didn’t wait until the flood to build the ark, and people shouldn’t wait for a medical emergency before they move,” says Rosenblatt.
Research has shown that people who feel rushed in the decision-making process typically end up making a decision based on price versus one that satisfies both short and long-term goals. Statistically, 70 percent of people over the age of 65 are expected to need to some long-term care services at some point in their lives, and 20 percent are expected to need long-term care services for more than five years. Financially, this could be catastrophic, especially if there not a solid plan in place.
Breaking the misconception that a retirement community is a nursing home is a big step. Some 20 to 30 years ago, when someone could no longer live at their home, the only option was a nursing home. Today, however, retirement communities like Buena Vida Estates offer a viable option, and in many cases, avoid the need to prematurely move to a nursing home. Retirement communities actually allow people to live more independently due to on-site services and amenities. “Many people compare Buena Vida Estates to being on a luxury cruise ship that offers first-class service, delectable dining options and endless social programs,” says Rosenblatt.
There are vast differences between retirement communities, and choosing the appropriate one requires careful and thorough research. Explore differences between an assisted-living facility (ALF) and an independent-living community, as well as differences between a rental community and a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).
“Take the time to visit and explore what is covered and not covered. Make sure you review contractual obligations since the last thing you want to do is think a community provides one thing and find out later that it doesn’t,” advises Rosenblatt.
It is also important to spend time visiting different communities and getting a feel of the lifestyle and the services offered. Some communities will even allow someone to spend a few nights to get a true feel. At a minimum, enjoy a meal or two, preferably with residents living at the community.