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Are you trying to help your Aged Parents?

I want to talk about one of the transitions that many of us will be involved in sooner or later, and that is helping our aged parents to make the huge leap in moving out of their home and into a smaller home, retirement village or residential care.

It's probably mainly the baby boomers among us who are facing this tough time, and I know first-hand how emotional this can be for all parties involved, and especially for our loved ones who may be unwell and needing special care.

Having been through this, those memories of that difficult time are still vivid.
For many families this decision can be a struggle with a parent not wanting to budge from the family home, and all their possessions.

What brought all of this back to my mind was a conversation I had last week with a woman who is needing to move her mother into an independent apartment in central Tauranga, and wanting some ideas on how to make the transition as easily and stress-less as possible. Interestingly she said her Mum had said to her "I just want someone to make the decisions for me on what I need to take to the new place, and then settle me in once I get there." I totally get what she is saying; she will already be overwhelmed just thinking about leaving the family home and all her possessions, to then try to make decisions around what will fit into a much smaller serviced apartment in a residential care facility would be far too daunting. Having lost her husband a year ago there was the emotional job of sorting through his items as well.

This is where family comes in. This loving daughter and I chatted for some time about how this could be handled with as much sensitivity as possible. Here's the path we discussed:

- First chat to her Mum about a plan on how this can be made easy for her, and although I mentioned that I could meet with her and her mum to help with this discussion this is also something she could do on her own. The main thing is that she is respected and able to speak for herself as to what she wants to do. Being bossy and railroading a parent, for their own good, is unkind and disrespectful to my mind.

- Secondly, I suggested to the daughter that she and I visit the serviced apartment to see exactly how much space there is, and potentially what pieces of her furniture could fit, as well as checking out possible storage for clothes and the like.

- The next step is to make the decisions, with her Mum alongside so she can give her opinion, on what will be useful to take to the new apartment and what definitely won't fit.

If these discussions become too difficult it is sometimes easier to have an independent person working with a parent or parents, or if you are out of the region, so do not hesitate to give me a call if you are in a situation such as this.

Please be careful with decisions around large furniture, and lots of possessions. Large furniture in a small area can become a tripping hazard, and lots of possessions on table tops can also quickly become messy. People living in small areas need as much space as possible, and that includes on table tops where they need to be able to safely pop a cup of tea, newspaper or book.

I want to make a point here that I feel is important: please be wary of keeping boxes and boxes of your parents' possessions and trying to store them at your own home. I've seen this time and time again: boxes stacked up to ceiling height in a garage, or in a spare room. This immediately cuts down on your own valuable storage space, but there is also the fact that oftentimes these boxes of possessions remain sealed sometimes for years.

I do understand that this is just a personal preference and everyone must make their own decisions on what they want to keep and there will be precious items that will be shared around the family I'm sure.

I also want you to know that if you are going through these often difficult and potentially emotional circumstances you are very welcome to call me to chat about it. Sometimes an idea or comment can make all the difference.

Margaret – 0800 22 88 24



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