I've mentioned before that my Mom and Dad both have very large families. Between the two of them I have 17 aunts and uncles. I buy a lot of Christmas presents! My Mom's mom lived in Aberdeen, South Dakota until she was 92 years old. One of my uncles still lived in Aberdeen, but the rest of the family is located in Minneapolis and St. Paul. We all wanted Grandma to move to the Twin Cities so we could see her more often. Needless to say, there were some lively debates between my mom, her brothers and sisters and my Grandmother. My Grandmother had some definate opinions about moving (you don't raise 9 children without having definate opinions about things) and she didn't want anything to do with moving. Of course at the time I couldn't figure out why she didn't want to be closer to us. After working with seniors and their families, I understand now. So, while familes may have the best interests of the older relative at heart, here are some things to consider prior to relocating a senior family member:
Does the older relative have a strong support system in the neighborhood where they currently live? Our Social support network is so important to both our health and our safety, that it may be the reason to NOT relocate the senior.
Often the motivation that is verbalized is to relocate the senior closer to the family so the family can "keep an eye" on her. Be honest with your self. If your busy schedule doesn't allow you time to visit where they live now, what makes you think you'll be able to make time to visit them if they're closer? How big is your family and really, how often will you be able to visit? Is it really an improvement to the current existing social support network? Your older relative may end up more lonely even though she is only 5 miles from your home.Often, many older relatives feel hurt and angry because of promises by family members to spend time with them after a relocation.
You family situation and your older relatives situation will likely change over time. You may have less time to spend with your aging relative, and your relative's health may change. What kind of resources are available in the community you want her to relocate to?
If your relative is still driving, will they be able to after a relocation? If not, how will they get around, Doctor appoinments, pharmacy pick ups, who will do these things?
While I selfishly wish my Grandmother had moved to Minneapolis, she lived out her days in Aberdeen South Dakota. I'm so glad my aunts and uncles respected what was important to her. This is a lesson she taught me that I pass on to families I work with. They have her to thank.