Q.When we retired ten years ago my wife and I spent a month in Florida. The next winter we stayed two months. The third, we stayed all winter and decided to buy an inexpensive, modest ranch house instead of renting. The next year we sold our Midwest condo and moved there permanently. But now we're getting older and have some ailments and our family members who might become caregivers all are up North. They rarely come to visit and though we don't want to move, we're afraid we should do it before we get too old and sick. Is it smart to make the move before we have to? Can we expect the family to take care of us as needed?
Ans. It's rarely a good idea to count on family members, especially children and grandchildren, to take charge of your care to YOUR satisfaction when you reach the stage where you can't do it yourselves unless you leave clear directions now. Make those decisions and arrangements by yourselves immediately. Designate in writing where you want to live during last years or months of your lives. Visit, and then choose, assisted living facilities and nursing care centers that you will want to stay in during your last years-South OR North. Talk with social workers in your community about hiring caregivers in your home for one or both of you if needed, and compare costs of all options. Then set out guidelines in writing for your family, with money designated for those purposes. It will eliminate squabbling between the kids when they try to decide what's best for you and for them when an emergency arises. And let's hope it's much later so you can bask in the sun a long time without this anxiety. For now, stay put. There's no reason to upset your happy home life while it's still working for you.