There's no right answer for parents' residence
Dear Carol: How do we convince our dad and mom to move back north? They've lived in Arizona for the last 20 years, and don't want to return to our climate. They are in their late 80s, and both have failing health. We have promised them that we wi...
Dear Carol: How do we convince our dad and mom to move back north? They've lived in Arizona for the last 20 years, and don't want to return to our climate. They are in their late 80s, and both have failing health. We have promised them that we will help them get settled and get around in bad weather. I know they are used to their surroundings and don't want the change, but it's so hard to help them from such a distance. - Sandy
Dear Sandy: As with so much in life, there is no clear answer to your question. You want to take good care of your parents and keep an eye on how they are doing. You want to make sure that the care they get from professionals is the best available. You want to ease your worry. And that would all be much easier if they lived nearby.
Yet, your parents have spent the last 20 years of their lives in a different community. They have friends, most likely a church, social activities and/or volunteer work - they've put down roots in Arizona. To pick up and move back (our climate not withstanding), means that they will not have the companionship of the people they have socialized with all of these years. They will be in a strange home. Be treated by strange doctors. Yes, they will have you, but their lives will change dramatically and that is very unsettling to them.
My dear friend, Margaret, was left a widow. She'd lived in Fargo for half a century. She had church friends and social friends. She had neighbors. She knew her doctors, her dentist, her grocery store.
Her children wanted her to live near them. She resisted for a long time. Then she became ill and the depression she'd suffered since her husband's death worsened. She developed other health problems, as well. Margaret could no longer live by herself. She reluctantly agreed to move to the state where one of her daughters lived. Her children set her up in a beautiful apartment. They took wonderful care of her, and she loved seeing them and her grandchildren. Yet, a part of her never left the town she loved. She felt the loss deeply and continued to suffer from depression until her death.
Was the move the right answer? I believe it was what had to be done. Was it easy? No. The family did, however, wait as long as they felt they could - letting her make the decision. They made a difficult choice; an imperfect solution to a common problem. Often, that's the best we can do.
Resource: If you are looking for help enrolling in Medicare D, the new Medicare prescription drug program, you can call the Fargo Senior Commission at (701) 293-1440 or toll-free (877) 827-1916. They will set up an appointment for you and give you a form to complete before you meet with a volunteer. They are also looking for additional volunteers. Training and on-going support is provided.
Bursack is the author of a support book on family elder care. To submit questions to "Minding Our Elders" and view past columns, go to www.in-forum.com and click on Columnists. Readers can reach Bursack at firstname.lastname@example.org or write her at The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.