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In her book, They’re Your Parents, Too! How Siblings Can Survive Their Parents’ Aging Without Driving Each Other Crazy, Francine Russo calls it “the last transition of our first family.” It’s the time when families reconvene decades after the children left the nest to help aging parents navigate their senior years.

If we are lucky, our parents begin the process of planning for this time early enough that they are able to make their own choices.

What do they need exactly? That’s the big question, and the hard part is that the answer is going to be different for every family. Are Mom and Dad healthy and mobile enough for Independent Living or do they need more assistance? Do they want to move into a senior community, or do they want to have in-home help so they can stay in their home? Do they have enough money to pay for the options they want?

When reached out to us for a possible partnership a few months ago, I was finishing up a year of helping my 93-year-old mother-in-law with this transition. It’s a hard decision to leave a house that is familiar for an apartment that is not, sort through and downsize a lifetime of acquired treasures, and give up the car. She chose a continuing care community where she can “graduate” to more assistance as she needs it, but we did look at many different care options.

However, hers is not the right choice for everyone, and is a great source for information on different care options for seniors. They have general information on the types of care available as well as resources for family caregivers. They also have specific resources organized by city and state so you can drill down to facilities and caregiving options in your area. It is an important tool in the toolkit for families working their way through this change.

As Russo demonstrates in her book, the “twilight” of the family does not have to be a time of conflict and stress, but careful planning is the key. Good planning starts with good information, and is a great place to start for aging seniors and their children.

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