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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Moving your elderly parents...

Every week I receive at least one call from a son or daughter who is at their wits end over how to help their elderly parents move.

The decision to move should have been made several years earlier, but the parents resisted any discussion of the subject, so the children stopped bringing it up.  Then something happened, a fall, surgery, a diagnosis of a serious illness, sometimes even the on set of dementia, and now it is imperative that they move to a safer environment.

Finally, the parents agree to move, but the move slows to snails pace when it comes to sorting through a house that has been lived in for 40 years.  Every single item needs to be examined and the parents are insistent that everything they own is a valuable antique and can't just be donated, it must be sold for an amount of money that they deem acceptable.  However, when the appraisers come in, there is very little that is actually worth selling.  Sometimes the process stops outright as parents battle children over what to do with their stuff.

When the decision has been made as to where the parents are going, it is often to a much, much smaller place.  Most seniors go from their 3 bedroom, 2 car garage homes to an apartment of about 600 square feet.  Convincing them that they need very little of the items they
have lived all their lives with turns into a tug of war.

I just finished working on such a move and the son asked me "why were you able to get them to
agree to everything when we couldn't?" And my answer was, "because I am not family".  I
don't have your history, I don't look for a "win" with a client, I listen and look for ways
to come to an agreement.  I don't argue, I don't get upset or annoyed, I simply move on until I can find something that we can call "done" and then return to those hot button items until a decision can be made.

Sometimes it's nearly impossible to get a parent to agree with you or to give up their power to their children.  Knowing when to call for professional help will save you, and them, a lot of grief.

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