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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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My mother-in-law who is 78 years old, lives in Florida and

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My mother-in-law who is 78 years old, lives in Florida and we live in Connecticut. She has fallen and broken or fractured bones at least 4 times in the last 2 years and we are increasingly concerned about having her relocate closer to family. We are not sure how to go about talking to her and broaching this topic, as well as the financial planning that needs to happen before she reaches a point where she is not as lucid...and needs to go to an assisted living center or to move into an inlaw apartment that we have What kind of services or resources are there for us to find experts in handling elder care issues?

Hi! I'll be glad to be of help with this issue.

I can imagine how worrisome this situation must be for you. You are clearly a caring person and she's fortunate to have you concerned for her and thinking about this. You're also correct and astute to recognize that recommending changes is going to be a sensitive subject.

This is why I always recommend that adult children and children in law have someone else do the recommending. Then the adult children and in laws can take the stance of, "Wow, that is indeed a good idea and, Mom, let's talk about it. I think they may have a point here. I wonder about the idea of you moving closer."

Notice, I've avoided as much as I can asking her to say if she would like to or not, or if she thinks it's a good idea or not. What I'm trying to do in the conversation is always get the adult children and in laws to make it a discussion that is a process. Someone else suggested the idea. Now you're thinking about it with her. And over a number of weeks of conversation, you're introducing more and more practical possibilities about her moving to Connecticut. Dealing with weather, nice residences, etc.

If you have a release to talk to her doctor(s) or at least a relationship with them where you can talk with them, that's the best approach. You want to see if they know a good social worker or therapist who specializes in geriatric patients. Then you want them to recommend it strongly to her. Then you want to talk with the therapist and/or have the doctor talk with the therapist and make your point that you want her closer to you so you can take care of her. Most doctors are very positively inclined when children offer this as are therapists. I'm very hopeful you can use this approach as it is effective.

The question of resources is a good one. You really will need legal advice on how to deal with her assets. It's very important, you're correct. You can try asking attorney friends or at church, etc. for the name of someone who specializes in geriatric law. A consultation should not be too expensive for a general discussion at first.

I really believe in caretakers' support groups as the best "mines" for getting information. People who've already been there at your stage of the move have the experience you need to draw from. You might call your county Health and Human Services office and ask about elder care, geriatric services, etc. and see what phone numbers you get. Then narrow it down to where there may be local support groups for family caregivers or for resource centers.

Then there are online groups:

Eldercare Online:

Daily Strength has a group site for elder care:

And Aging Parents has one:

And Children of Aging Parents has one:

Again, you are doing the right thing in preparing for this step. Good for you.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

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