Color & Control:

When a Caregiver is Relocating

You’re applying for a new job that will involve moving from Calgary to just outside of Toronto. You’ve moved several times before and have dealt successfully with the challenges of re-settling your husband and two boys.  This time, the kids aren’t the issue, it’s your father-in-law.

Today, a large number of relocations discussions centre around “soft issues” like eldercare.  Proactive employers recognize that no two families will have the same concerns, but they realize that caring for mom and dad is becoming higher on the agenda. There are often eldercare services or programs available from employers with “on-line and live” advice and many banks, realtors and financial advisors now offer eldercare services as a specialty:

What should you expect when a job away from home is on your mind and there’s an older person in your life:

1) Take them along. Consider moving your parents with the family to the new location.  This keeps the family unit whole and minimizes out of town worrying. Costs are, of course, increased by the additional moving expenses which will  vary by personal circumstances. (some employers cover these as well). If postings are outside the country check immigration procedures and medical coverage.

Often widowed parents (especially mothers) are happy to make a change and I know some families who have had a lot of fun finding or renovating homes with in-law apartments for relatives. In other cases, the dynamics of “living together” are disastrous.  Think carefully before you offer this option and, if and when you do, make sure your spouse also agrees that it’s a “good” idea.

2) Upgrade locally: If your parent is happy in the community but not necessarily well placed for the future, think about looking for a new, more supportive housing environment that is close by. No rush, just a gradual process to make sure that current and longer-term needs are on the table. If support/ care can be expanded without further moves or changes, it’s less disruptive for all of you.  Your parents can be left to happily “age in place.”

3) Negotiate family focused trips home: When you agree to take the new job try to plan your time around making regular visits. Ask for the flexibility to leave quickly in an emergency situation and check your company’s policy on “caregiving leave.”  Long-distance caregiving unpredictable.  Try to leave the door open and keep money aside for sudden, unplanned trips to take care of eldercare situations and make sure you have somewhere comfortable to stay when you’re in town.

4) Discuss and delegate. Go over your plans with all concerned.  Are other family members willing and able to fill in while you’re out-of-town?  Sometimes we get so used to doing things ourselves that we forget that others may be willing to help.  Try to find a designated person who will take over as the “primary” caregiver should anything happen.  If not, make other suitable arrangements so that you and your parents are not left scrambling and that you have an open and direct line of communication at all times.

5) Stay involved.  Make a concerted effort/ commitment to “be in touch” regularly and predictably.  With today’s on-line and wireless options, you can be in-touch 24/7 if necessary.  Scheduled personal calls are best for most elderly family members. Your calls are an event to look forward to and a time for catching up for all.

6) Hire help.  Geriatric care managers, eldercare accountants and lawyers, as well as nursing services offer part-time or round-the-clock service advice and intervention.  From paying the bills and mowing the lawn to preparing meals or taking dad to the doctor’s or the emergency room at the hospital, there’s a full range of professional services that will keep things running smoothly in your absence. And, for the record, you can expect very timely, detailed reports for these professionals to keep you up to date.

7) Review Costs Carefully. Will you or your parent incur additional costs because you’re out of town. Are you currently underwriting certain expenses or providing services that will require cash in the future?  Take a look at the budgets, arrange for easy access banking services and make sure there’s no way your parent will suffer financially or be taken advantage while you’re not there.

Beware the Extras!
I had a not-so-pleasant surprise when I received my three-month “extras” bill from the nursing home. Besides costs of medicines not covered by OHIP, I found weekly hairdresser’s fees, footcare bills, and charges for extra socks, underwear, and personal care items. I’d got a bill for cable TB and the snack shop. All told, I was on the hook for an extra $630-unbudgeted!


Questions to ask when housing becomes an issue-ten things you need to know

Often when a parent suddenly single or the family home is too much for Mom and Dad to handle, discussions lead to the possibility of a move. If you’re in that position, check out these top 10!

  • Safety First: Is the new housing clean, safe, and accessible for walkers, wheelchairs etc.
  • Where is it? What is the proximity to family who will want to visit?
  • Dollars and sense: Can your elder afford it and is maintenance manageable?
  • Timing and Commitment: When is the space available and do you understand the terms of the lease or monthly agreements?
  • Recreational facilities: Are there adequate leisure or social activities available?
  • Convenience: Are shops, banks, and churches easily accessible?
  • Four-season comfort: ow will it be in the winter-is it year round accessible for walkers and wheelchairs?
  • Independent Living: Does it meet your loved one’s need for privacy and independence?
  • Near doctor’s office: How far away is the family doctor’s office and medical facilities?
  • Comforts of home: Will your elder be able to bring or store house-hold and personal items?



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