Caring for aging parents is a big responsibility — made even more challenging if you live far away. That’s one of many reasons experts estimate that millions of Americans have relocated to be closer to their families since the start of the pandemic. This is a truly big decision and one that must be carefully considered from a number of viewpoints. Yes, you want to help your parents, but this will also substantially impact your life, your spouse’s, , and friends. Here are some considerations to help you navigate this challenging time.
- Socialization can improve your loved one’s mental and physical health. Studies show that seniors who have regular interaction with their families enjoy longer, healthier lives.
- You can advocate on your loved one’s behalf. Get the real story by accompanying your parents to doctor appointments and other important meetings.
- Being there may quell your own anxieties. If you’re worried about your loved one’s living conditions, knowing you can see them anytime can help you sleep better.
- Enjoy a better work-life balance. Caring for a loved one from afar can interfere with work and disrupt other areas of your life.
- Relocating may save both of you money. If you keep your job and work remotely, your salary can go a lot farther.
- You can create precious memories together. From family game nights to strolls outdoors, you have plenty of opportunities to bond.
You must also consider the impact this will have on you. Helping your parents will be a most impactful endeavor and may become all consuming. So, please consider the following:
- Your day will increasingly focus on their well-being and you may be tasked with food shopping, driving, and performing tasks that they find difficult.
- You may become a full-time care giver. This is most demanding and should be carefully considered in your planning.
- If a move is required, please list all of the operational changes that will need to be made, such as doctors, additional expenses, travel logistics, etc.
- If loved ones are also impacted, they should also list any areas of concern they may have, so a truly holistic approach is considered and all concerns are addressed ahead of time.
- If you’re not sure, consider a trial approach, or possibly a part-time approach, so you are balancing your parents needs with your own.
Once you have made a decision make a Plan Together
If you decide to relocate, hash out the details with your parents. You don’t need to move back into your high school bedroom, so consider which living arrangement makes the most sense. You may choose to live on your own, move into a larger multigenerational household together, or become neighbors by purchasing a duplex. Also plan for the possibility that they may need to move into assisted living or long-term care at a future date.
In addition to living arrangements, get on the same page about lifestyles. Do you plan to visit weekly? Daily? Even if you’re close by, it can be helpful to hire a home health care aide part-time to help with personal care, medications, and chores. Let them know your work and home responsibilities, so you are all on the same page. This is very important so there are no misunderstandings.
Determine What You Can Afford and Where
If you decide a move is required, your first step is to qualify for a mortgage or to find a rental property that fits your budgets. Lenders and landlords will look at your income, employment, credit history, and how much you want to borrow to determine your maximum loan amount, if so required. You may be able to include income from your parents if you plan to live together. To get a rough idea of what you can afford, add up your monthly expenses, and divide the total by your gross income. Ideally, your debt-to-income ratio is less than 50% — including all the expenses associated with your future home.
If contemplating a purchase, you’ll also need to carefully consider local home prices in the area you’re moving to. Scan listings to determine if purchasing a home is an affordable option.
Once you’re moved in, take the time to get acquainted with your new city independent of your senior loved ones. For example, if you’re moving back to the Pacific Northwest after years or decades away, discover new local gems, and rediscover your old haunts. Remember, even as your elderly parents need more of your time and attention, it’s important to cultivate a rewarding work and personal life while making time for self-care.
You’re Not Alone
The idea of relocating and starting a new chapter of your life can be daunting. However, with a little planning, you can transform this challenge into an opportunity.
Designed Retirements offers customized financial planning and time management strategies for your retirement. Plan your retirement today!
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