Moving mom up to MA
June 11, 2015 5:13 AM   Subscribe

My mother, aged 73, would like to move from NYC to near us in the Boston 'burbs to be closer to us and our little daughter (though not moving in with us). She's lived in NYC for 45 years, so wherever she moves would be a big transition. I'd be grateful for any resources, tips, and experiences for helping aging parents with a similar move.

For instance, are there federal or state services that will help us find a suitable place for her to live--whether that's just in a regular market rental or some sort of senior housing? Are there pitfalls when a senior moves from state to state that we should be mindful of?

We're hoping to find a place on our train line so that she doesn't need to drive a car.

We're still in the exploratory phases, so we don't even know what we don't know yet.
posted by Admiral Haddock to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If she is not going to have a car, in addition to being on your train line she needs to be close enough to shopping. What kind of neighborhood does she live in now? What kind of neighborhood would she like to live in? As far as I know the public services that help seniors find housing are for lower-income seniors. If she qualifies then check this site. What town are you in? Check to see if your town offers anything.

The other possibility is that she move to a retirement community. These can be good in that residents have safety and an instant community.

I'm a few years younger than your mom and I don't think I'd ever want to live in one of those. I like having neighbors of all ages. I like being able to walk to a cafe. I don't live in Boston, but have in the past; my neighborhood in my current city is comparable to Jamaica Plain.
posted by mareli at 5:51 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

We moved my husband's aging parents from NY to CO last year. One parent was in decent health, the other in not so great health; plus financial issues. Some of the things we looked at:

1. Transferring healthcare - Medicare, medicare advantage, medicaid, ACA coverage, etc. Are there in-network doctors for the relevant conditions in the new locale. How will they get to health care appointments (they sold their car; but CO has an all-inclusive PACE program that they were able to get into, which includes transport). Are there special open enrollment periods for moving, etc. Get a copy of all medical records from old doctors. If she's being treated for anything specific, have her get a treatment plan from her docs for the move (assume limited access to regular care for ~30 days). Each state usually has an "office of the elderly" or something similar that should have a list of resources available to people who are 65+ including housing, financial assistance, medical programs, food assistance, activities, and discounts.

2. Updating POAs and healthcare proxies for the new state

3. Budget - full analysis of their budget to see what they could afford apartment-wise. Run credit reports to see if there will be any issues securing an apartment. BIL then scouted apartments in the new area - walkable to all main necessities (grocery, pharmacy, post office, park, etc), within budget, first floor/no stairs apartment available, etc. Lease was secured before moving. We considered 55+ communities, but many were not within budget and the in-laws were opposed to the idea in any case.

4. Make a list of all current expenditures to see what needs to be canceled/transferred and what addresses need to be updated: cable, internet, water, gas, electric, car insurance, renters insurance, bank accounts, etc. --- make sure you notify social security of the address change and any change in bank account information!

5. Taxes - hello part-year resident returns! Plan to help with filing next year (and/or hiring a CPA). If there's a possibility of employment after the move, save all moving receipts for potential deductions.

6. Help with packing - FIL couldn't help due to health issues; MIL had trouble w/ downsizing and needed friends to help her through the process (physically and emotionally). If funds allow, a full-service company would be a great idea. We used a Relocube and it worked pretty well for us (not a great option in NYC though). Any family heirlooms or kids' things in storage at their old place were distributed to the kids, so they wouldn't have to worry about moving/storing them in their new, smaller place. Even though the move was necessary for financial and health reasons and was bringing them to the same city as their grandchildren, it was still emotional to leave the place that was their home for so many years -- leave space for this to happen.

7. Actual relocation: they had to fly out to CO and then wait for their stuff to arrive, so you probably won't encounter the same logistical issues. They had to stay w/ BIL's family for a week or so between flying out (the day after all of their stuff was loaded into the relocube) and their relocube arriving in CO. Think about every contingency (if her stuff is packed on Monday and she's scheduled to leave Tuesday, where will she sleep? what will she eat on?). For us, managing all of that stuff was necessary because they weren't able to do it themselves.

Overall, it went as smoothly as could be realistically expected and stayed within budget. But, to be honest, that was almost entirely due to the fact that I'm a really good planner and a professionally-trained issue-spotter (as I know you are as well). You know your own mother and her abilities. But to be safe, treat it as if you're moving yourself -- that is, you have to think of and plan to deal with every piece of the puzzle. Unfortunately, decreases in executive function can be hidden by familiarity with one's routine and only become apparent when one has to undertake a big project like this.
posted by melissasaurus at 6:19 AM on June 11, 2015 [6 favorites]

If you're thinking about senior housing in the area get her on a wait list ASAP. My mom was on wait lists in two nearby towns for a couple of years before she got an opening at one of them.

I'm not sure what your/her budget is but there are a ton of condos going up (or that have already gone up) within walking distance of the Natick Center commuter rail stop.
posted by bondcliff at 6:48 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are you talking about the T or Commuter Rail for her? If she's used to living in NYC then try to get a place in Boston or Cambridge, depending on the available budget. On the other hand, the suburbs open up more and probably cheaper options.

Speaking from experience (a year and a half commuting from Northborough to South Boston), the Commuter Rail sucks hard. Plus, it's designed for, well, commuting, not elderly people going to visit their relatives at any time of day, so the schedule might not work for your family.
posted by tckma at 6:54 AM on June 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

You may not have to limit choices to areas close to T stops or bus lines. As long as she is in the area covered by the T she could qualify for The Ride. The Ride is a door to door service provided by the T to qualified disabled persons. Most elderly can qualify if they have Dr. certified mobility issues. For $4.00 (and 24 hours notice) she can go virtually anywhere.
posted by Gungho at 7:09 AM on June 11, 2015

I encourage you to check out the walk score for various neighborhoods.

We tried moving my grandmother from NYC closer to my father further upstate and it was not a good experience for all involved. My grandmother lost her ability to leave her apartment whenever she wanted to get groceries, go to the drugstore, get to the doctors. And she moved back to NYC soon after.

Don't just look at transit, make sure she can walk to some basic amenities. That level of independence is really critical.

And start thinking about doctors and medical care. Who will take over primary care? Are there any conditions that need special care? Your mom might want to get some recommendations for gerontologists.
posted by brookeb at 7:51 AM on June 11, 2015

Check in with the Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging (or with your local Council on Aging). They've got good resources for helping the elderly and those who care for the elderly.

Boston's got an Elderly Affairs Commission that also looks helpful.
posted by carrioncomfort at 8:06 AM on June 11, 2015

The biggest issue for my grandma was losing her entire social network other than family. While it was great for her to be closer to my parents and sister (I live across the country), it was also difficult for her to have to start fresh with making any other social connections. Remember how much harder it was to make friends as an "adult" as compared to a college student? It's that level of difficulty again, basically. This was tough both because it placed a bigger time burden on my parents than they expected, and because my grandma ended up being lonely a lot until she figured this out. So, some things to think about here in terms of making this transition easier -- possibly looking into a senior community where there's some built in social activities, looking into specific activities she can check out/join BEFORE she makes the move so that some of the groundwork is laid (i.e. senior swim or other exercise classes at the Y, volunteer groups, sewing/poetry/book/etc. groups depending on her interests, etc.), and finally thinking about what broader communities she may want to be part of and helping her make those connections -- be that a church or other religious community, community groups, etc.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:07 AM on June 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

A counterpoint to rainbowbrite's concern - my parents did a similar uprooting-from-everyone move after Dad retired, and basically moved away from their social network of 30 years' standing. However, they actually made friends with their new neighbors pretty quickly, and both got some cheeseball jobs with the florist in their new town for a couple years for the extra income and ended up getting into a social circle that way too. They also stayed actively in touch with their friends in our old town, and there have been a lot of visits back and forth.

Not denying that it can indeed be hard to make new friends, but it's not an across-the-board problem; and adding that a McJob can be a way to build a social network as well.

(and heck, if your mother is moving anywhere within T access to the Cape, let me know if you want to set up a Mefites' parents' play date.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:35 AM on June 11, 2015

My Mom moved to a retirement community with 3 levels of care. She's in independent living now.

Your job's EAP may have information for you. Our HR department is holding an Eldercare seminar today.

The Marketing department should let you know how long the wait will be. It may be a shorter wait for a smaller unit.

To add to your list: emergency care. At her old house, she lived one block from a hospital. When she fainted in D.C., the ambulance took her to GW, but would have taken her to another DC hospital.

We didn't know that at the retirement community, an ambulance will only take you to the closest, not well regarded, hospital.

Her neighbor woke up in pain and had his wife drive him to another hospital. That's not workable in a real emergency.
posted by MichelleinMD at 9:49 AM on June 11, 2015

If she's at all inclined, please consider a retirement community with graduated care levels. There will be an instant social network/activities. As we found out with my FIL, it was great that he was independent and able to live on his own, at first, but as his health declined, it was an ordeal trying to find a place that would take him in - which would have been a non-issue, if he had opted to live in a community when he was healthier/first made the decision to move.
posted by sarajane at 9:50 AM on June 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Make sure the new place has good handicap accessibility - it will help her stay in her new home longer. She is almost certain to need a walker at some point, and could also find herself in wheelchair while recovering from a illness.
posted by metahawk at 6:08 PM on June 11, 2015

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