Important Considerations for Relocating Seniors
There may a come a time when adult children feel the need to have their parents nearer to them. This is typically prompted by a change in health or cognition of the senior, or the logistics of trying to care for parents long-distance. Whatever the trigger, there are numerous aspects to consider when orchestrating the move. If the move is out of state, the details become more involved and require thorough pre-planning.
Where to Live
First to consider is where a senior will live once relocated. Will the senior reside with the adult child? If so, and the adult child works, is the senior able to remain alone at home during the day? If not, where is the most appropriate setting for the senior to live? This will be dependent upon the health status and functionality of the senior. Exploring options for senior living communities is highly recommended once it is determined how much support the senior requires. Continuing Care Retirement Communities offer one good option as they allow older adults to “age in place” through a continuum of care, beginning with Independent Living, progressing to Assisted Living, and then if the need arises moving to either Memory Care or Long-term Care (Nursing Home).
How to Move
A second aspect to consider is how to physically move a senior. Obviously the shorter the distance; the easier the move. However, relocating a loved one from say Florida to Indiana will require some advanced planning. Is a family member able to drive/fly down to Florida, close down the senior’s home, and transport the senior back to Indiana? If not, perhaps it would be wise to consider the use of a Senior Move Manager who can facilitate the entire move from packing, to donation of unwanted goods, to ordering a moving van. A reliable source for Senior Move Managers can be found at: www.nasmm.com.
If a senior is on traditional Medicare, there should be no insurance changes required. However if the senior is on a HMO/PPO (Advantage Program), it’s necessary to apply for new coverage in the new state of residence. There are certain requirements/restrictions for making this change, so consulting an insurance benefits specialist is recommended.
Along with the physical act of relocating are the “administrative” aspects associated with uprooting a senior. Things to consider are: insurance coverage; transferring medical records and insuring all legal documents remain valid if the move is out-of-state. It is prudent to review all legal documents/designations every 2-3 years to make sure that they are as up-to-date as possible. Individuals who are designees may no longer be capable/in a position to serve in their roles, so changes are required.
For example, if a spouse is the Power of Attorney (POA) and has been recently been diagnosed with cognitive impairment, it would be wise to name another person to fill this role. While some legal documents will be honored from state to state, it is always best to have them reviewed by an attorney in the new state of residence.
Transferring medical records from one provider to another is always a challenge so it is recommend that seniors request their records well in advance of their move and hand-deliver them to their new providers. This assures that records will not be lost or misplaced in the paper maze of the new provider’s practice inbox.
Locating New Providers
It is recommended to choose new medical providers as soon as possible, before the need arises. There are several avenues by which to do this – professional referrals from one’s old provider, personal referrals from family and friends, or using a system such as Healthgrades. Healthgrades is a website that provides comprehensive information on all types of providers, including specialists. It also “grades” each on a 5-star system with 5 being the best. Healthgrades can also reveal whether or not a provider has/had any sanctions, such as malpractice suits. One important question to consider when locating a new provider is whether or not the new provider accepts Medicare, as some are limiting the number of Medicare patients they accept or even rejecting all Medicare patients.
Geriatric Care Managers (GCM) are good resources to consult prior to relocating senior loved ones. They can offer invaluable advice and helpful tips to make the transition process less stressful for the caregiver(s) as well as the senior. Should the caregiver not have the time or desire to initiate the moving process, a GCM is able to oversee the entire process from start to finish.
By Nancy Hanley, RN
Geriatric Care Manager