I received a call from a frazzled colleague a few months ago, looking for some sage advice.
This middle aged acquaintance was struggling with juggling the needs of those she cared about, a common malady of the sandwich generation. She referred to herself as a “betweener". On one end of the spectrum, she was trying to help an adult child with some financial concerns, and on the opposite end of the age continuum, she was attempting to strategize with her parents about future long-term planning.
Between working full time and trying to juggle the needs of two generations: she felt at some point she had lost perspective.
Her parents were looking at alternatives to maintaining their family home, and had wondered about retirement residences. This would indeed be a lifestyle change that could not be entered into lightly.
Together we looked at the options...
In order to realistically review possible future choices, one of the lead topics that surfaced was finances.
Financial Planning: The first step to determining if a retirement residence was economically feasible sparked a visit to the elderly couple’s financial planner. Because of the cost variances between homes, it was important for the couple to determine if this lifestyle was affordable and sustainable.
Health Analysis: The couple were in relatively good health, and there were no physical, emotional, or safety issues that would impact their suitability for a Retirement residence as opposed to a Long-Term Care home. One parent had an underlying medical condition which was controlled with medication and self monitoring. They both had recently attended their family doctor for a health review, and had requested a medication check by their pharmacist.
Game Plan: It was suggested that the couple review the Resources Section in the Elderpilot: Retirement mobile app, to facilitate an analysis of which amenities and services would best address their needs. Retirement Homes vary in costs and care provision, and the tool allowed for an interesting insight into the couples list of “must haves”.
Items of Necessity:
Home Location: Because there was a possibility that the couple would no longer continue to maintain a vehicle after the move, this was a significant consideration. Of importance was the availability of transportation: both public, and driving support offered by the residence.
Suite Amenities: There were certain non negotiable items in their suite checklist and during our research the couple discovered that they were limited to a bar fridge in some of the residences. As avid entertainers, this was unacceptable.
Building amenities: The housekeeping service was a key area of the review. The couple expressed an interest in using a service weekly, but from a cost perspective needed to see the additional fee lists.
Medical Service: During the decision making process, a health consideration arose. One member of the couple required daily injections and on a rare occasion there had been complications, relating to an underlying illness. With this consideration in mind, it was decided that the availability of a nurse in the residence 24/7 was the best option to meet their potential future needs.
Meal service: The couple wanted an accessible private dining area for entertaining guests, because sharing of a meal was an important factor in their lifestyle.
My colleague enlisted her siblings to review online information and make calls to determine which homes would be suitable for touring within the preferred geographical radius. By collectively eliminating homes based on the non negotiables, the required tours were greatly reduced. Time and energy was saved, and suddenly the process became less stressful.
On the tour day, the family was able to observe the resident/staff interactions and rate the tour experience. One family member used the Elderpilot mobile app checklist while the parents experienced the “feel” of the environment. At the end of each tour, a picture was taken of the outside facade, and the mobile app report was saved for later review.
In order to solidify the decision making there was an opportunity to try a vacation stay at the chosen residence before any formalized commitment was made. This provided a sense of comfort and confidence.
Power of Attorney: In the course of their journey, it was discovered that the couple had not completed Power of Attorney papers for health and property, and subsequently this was addressed. With the momentum of the experience, a will was updated, and there was a visible sense of empowerment as the parents discussed their future.
The move took place...
As the dust began to settle, the calls from my colleague began to diminish. Out of caring curiosity I placed a call to determine if she was feeling less stressed or was still feeling “betwixt” or “between”.