Baby Boomers are one hot media topic these days. In one publication you read that we Boomers are different than our parents’ generation – and then another story concludes we may approach things differently but, in the end, we are about the same.
But some facts are indisputable. We are all living longer and our parents are likely, at some point, to need our help. Let’s assume that our children have been educated, are gainfully employed, and can pay their own expenses. Now let’s focus on the “Open-Faced Sandwich” scenario in which we, as Boomers, have only to worry about caring for a parent or other older relative.
For Boomers who have grown up here with parents living nearby, the first step is to have a plan. While everyone is in good health, have your parents talk about their plans for the future and how they would like to live as they age. Some options to consider include:
- CCRC – Are your parents interested in moving into a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)? There are now several to choose from in our area. A CCRC is defined as “a residential community for the remainder of one’s life, with a choice of services and living situations. Residents can move between Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Nursing Home Care based on changing needs at each point in time”. Cadbury at Lewes is a local CCRC.
- Stay where they are – Are they determined to remain independent in their own home? If yes, can that home age well with them and be accessible if one or both parents become temporarily or permanently impaired? Now is the time to begin planning and making some modifications so that at least one entrance will be barrier free and one bedroom and one bathroom are on the first floor. Sometimes fairly simple modifications will allow your parents to “Age in Place”.
- Move in with you – At some point, will one or both parents be moving into your home? How will that affect your life and that of the rest of your family? Do you have the room or will you have to consider buying a new home with multiple living areas?
- In-law Suite or Granny Flat – At least in Sussex County, there are very few homes that include a totally separate suite and even fewer that are zoned properly to allow a Granny Flat to be built. Ellendale is one town that does allow the construction of an accessory dwelling on your property as long as you live in either the primary residence or the Granny Flat. Maybe it’s time for more cities and towns to add this provision just as many other parts of the country already have.
If your parents live thousands of miles away, all of the choices above become even more challenging. You may be perfectly willing to care for your aging parents but you’re not willing to move to do so. Maybe you just retired and finally moved to your dream home at the beach or into that new Active Adult Community. What will you do if your parents refuse to move closer to you? Thinking and talking about these issues with aging parents before decisions become urgent can save everyone a lot of unhappiness over the long haul.
Boomers will live long past the historic retirement age and so will our parents. The question is how will we live and take care of those who took care of us.