True Stories: What happens if your adult children force you to move out of your home and into a retirement community

We’ve recently started working with an 88 ½ yr old wife and her husband who is 93 yrs old. The three adult children live out of state but talk to their parents on a regular basis. The existing home is one story, with a step down from the hallway to the living room. The wife usually sleeps in her recliner in the living room and the husband sleeps in his recliner in the family room. They are both on walkers and unsteady on their feet and do have some health issues.

One of the siblings has taken charge and paid for two apartments in a senior community. The wife will be in independent living and the husband will be in assisted living. I am moving this week. Neither person wants to move. They yell and scream at one another and then cry. It’s heartbreaking to observe. 

The wife wanted her own space as it had become too difficult for her to help her husband dress, put on compression socks, attend to daily life activities, and even cook. Their meals are Ensure drinks or peanut butter sandwiches with tomato. Yuk!

The one sibling got apartments at this senior living community and has been paying for the two apartments since December 2022. The couple has been procrastinating about moving.

In my professional opinion, a few thoughts:

  1. I recommend the couple move to where one of the adult children lives, so they will be close to at least one adult child. Move them into a retirement community in the same city, hopefully just a few miles from one of their children. Check references and the level of care the community offers depending on what the parents need.
  2. The adult children should have moved them several years ago before they got sicker and aged. Now the parents are very tired, not open to change, and giving up their household possessions – which adds to their stress level.
  3. If they have the financial means – bring in “in-home care”. Primarily to make meals, go to the grocery store, pick up prescriptions, light house cleaning, and take them to doctors’ appointments so they can stay in their existing home. Though it is difficult to find qualified talent who are reliable, trustworthy, and confident; they can help the couple.

My feedback:

Don’t let your parents prolong the next chapter in their life. Have family meetings in person if possible. Take your parents on tours of communities and areas where the adult children live. Make them feel safe and comfortable. I know the couple is scared and afraid of the unknown….it’s normal. But as an adult child, help them work through it by being there for them.