The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes time spent with family. Over the next few weeks, many people will savor some quality together time, but for some, it also can be a time of fraught conversations — think politics, religion, or relationship status. But there’s one conversation that is worth having, even if it might seem a little uncomfortable, and that is discussing your senior living plans with your adult children.
When adult children must initiate “the talk”
In some cases, older adults are hesitant to make a change in their living situation, even if it is no longer safe for them to remain in their current home. This can be one of those sensitive topics to bring up when families are together for the holidays.
However, we’ve written before about the need for adult children to initiate a senior living conversation with aging parents — a.k.a., “the talk” — even if it isn’t a subject their parents are eager to discuss. And ideally, this conversation should occur before there is a substantial change in the parents’ health or mobility.
Some of the key points for adult children to cover in this conversation with their parents include:
- Their timeline for retiring from their career
- Their retirement savings and overall financial situation
- Any life insurance or long-term care insurance policies, as well as any VA benefits they have
- Their senior living plans (e.g., if they plan to remain in their home or relocate, such as to a 55-plus community)
- Their wishes around care, should they no longer be able to make decisions for themselves
- Their end-of-life wishes
- The existence and location of any estate planning documents, like a will or trust, power of attorney, and/or advance directives, if they have been created (You can learn more about each of these documents here.)
Need more tips on having “the talk” with aging parents? Here are some pointers on how to get the conversation started.
When parents want to share their senior living plans
The situation also can be flipped when it comes to having conversations about senior living plans. Some adult children are reluctant to think about, much less talk about, the realities that can come with their parents’ aging process.
In certain cases, adult children may not want to picture a future where their parents are no longer healthy or able to care for themselves. For others, the idea of their parents moving out of a beloved childhood home is difficult to imagine. In still other instances, adult children may even be thinking of themselves — such as how their parents’ retirement plans might impact their finances and thus the child’s potential inheritance.
But in any of these (or other) scenarios, it is still important for retirees to share their retirement plans and aging-related wishes with their loved ones. Even if there is push back from an adult child, bear in mind that this is your life, and retirement is a time when you should be able to enjoy life as you see fit.
This might mean remaining in your current home and perhaps doing some renovations to make it more aging-friendly if needed (such as adding a ground-level bathroom, for example). Or maybe you envision living part of the year in your existing home and part-time in a different area of the country (or even the world!). Perhaps you’re eager to downsize your home and move to a low- or no-maintenance 55-plus community.
Whatever your desire, if you are making a plan in advance, factoring in your personal financial situation as well as potential care needs down the road, your loved ones should respect and honor your choices, even if it isn’t exactly what they would want for themselves or for you.
A senior living plan that includes peace of mind
For some people who are making a senior living decision, they are drawn to the peace of mind that comes with moving to a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or life plan community).
The key feature that distinguishes a CCRC from other types of 55-plus community is the continuing care contract, which often provides residents with priority or even exclusive access to a full continuum of care, generally ranging from independent living to assisted living and even 24-hour skilled nursing care. For many CCRC residents, it is this unique feature that is most attractive to them, providing a sense of security as well as solace knowing that, should their health or mobility decline, they will not be a burden to their loved ones.
Overcoming pushback from adult children
For some people, a CCRC is the senior living solution that checks many of the boxes — providing a maintenance-free home, an active lifestyle, and access to any type of care services that might be needed down the road. However, if moving to a CCRC — either now or at some point in the future — is a part of your retirement plan, it also might cause pushback from adult children.
Their apprehensions about your choice can come from several different places.
- They may feel emotional about relinquishing the house that they grew up in, which may have many fond memories tied to it.
- They might be struggling with the reality that you are growing older and may suffer a decline in your health at some point.
- They could have reservations about whether you will be happy or feel at home in a 55-plus community.
- They might be concerned about the financial ramifications of a CCRC move — either that you may not be able to afford it and will outlive your savings, or move selfishly, that their own inheritance might be impacted.
Should you face a less-than-favorable response from adult children when you share that you are planning a CCRC move, it is important to explain your motivations for the decision. It also can be helpful to convey other details about what has led you to this choice — such as the research you have completed about the community, the financial calculations you have done to confirm the affordability of the move, and/or your desire to move while you are still relatively young and healthy.
Oftentimes, it is a matter of educating adult children on the advantages that can come with moving to an independent living 55-plus community or a CCRC. They may have preconceived notions about what a retirement community is or may even be confusing it with a nursing home. The reality is that many of today’s senior living communities are active, vibrant, fun-filled communities, with residents who are living their best life.
A plan for happiness during retirement
Once you have presented your case for whatever senior living option you believe is right for you — be that remaining in your existing home or relocating to a different home — hopefully your children can eventually support and even embrace your decision. After all, their priority, and yours, should be your happiness.
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