Hey, GT! It’s been a while since I’ve done more than casual lurking/commenting. However, since y’all give such great advice, I’m wondering if you have any for me now (or just acknowledgement that this situation sucks). Here’s the scoop:
My parents, in their 50s-60s and medium healthy (knock on wood), semi-retired and moved 1,500 miles from our home area last year to start their new, warmer climate life together. Until then, they had been living in the same house and within the same general area as both of their families for a really long time (though a couple of my mom’s siblings preceded them in their move to warmer climate retirement life). They have a new place by the beach, new part-time jobs, and they are digging it.
However, my parents are super family oriented and tend to put family above all else. This has meant that, in the past, they’ve often taken on care-giving roles for family members and/or pitched in for people in times of need. For example, despite my Dad having 3 other siblings, my parents became my grandmother’s primary visitors and helpers during the last years of her life, taking her on some of her only weekly outings from her assisted living, taking her to all her doctors’ appointments, and running her errands. For various (long-term) stretches of time before they moved, my Dad had also served as a part-time aide for two ill/disabled family members. In part, he did it because he liked it (or, he liked bonding with at least one of those people). But he also did it to keep his conscience at bay, because in his mind, what kind of family are you if you don’t take care of your relatives when they need it?
This leads back to the present. One of my Dad’s older siblings and his spouse (both fully retired) went down to visit my parents in their new place about a month ago. They fell in complete love with the area and have (very, very quickly) set their hearts on moving there! They started looking at houses before their vacation even ended and have already put their house back in our home area on the market, less than a month later.
But neither person in this couple seems to be doing well, physically. In fact, one has been having mysterious appointments with a doctor for some time and refuses to tell family what they’re about (circumstances imply that whatever ailment it is could be grave, like advanced cancer). The other is mobility impaired. The couple gets by okay for now and are living independently in their own house through team work, but I wonder how long that will last... which puts my parents in a really tough position.
If the couple stayed in their home area, if and when they lost their health, their adult children would (presumably) be able to step in and help. However, if they move to this new area, they will pretty much only know and have access to my parents. As much as my parents love them, they are empty nesters, and they want to enjoy these years of their lives a deux. It sounds like all parties have been too polite to discuss this huge elephant in the room so far; my parents haven’t brought it up with the couple or their kids, and maybe the couple’s kids haven’t talked with them about it either. I tried telling my Mom this weekend that she would regret it if she failed to muster up the courage to ask what the couple’s plan for bad times down the road is, and she didn’t really feel there was a polite way to do it.
I’m pretty sure there’s nothing that I can do but let my parents deal with it or now and live with whatever happens (they’re adults and can make their own decisions), right? But I can’t help but be really, really sad to see this special time and space my parents had secured slipping away and them ending up caring for one or two people in declining health for some indefinite duration. If there was something more I could say or do to help that wouldn’t start massive drama, I would.
All thoughts and advice welcome! Thanks.