“Mum and Dad are slowing down a bit now – I guess they are in their 80s! They used to take a lot of pride in the house, but I can see it’s becoming a bit much ever since Dad broke his leg in a fall. They don’t socialise like they used to. Their friends are starting to pass away or get out less too. They’re a bit confused by the modern world of phones and internet. And some suppliers insist on you getting online to pay your bills these days – they don’t understand that older people struggle with that.”
“Maybe it’s time Mum and Dad downsized and moved closer to me so that I can see them more often and it’s easier for me to help. I’m always the one that they call for assistance. There’s a new retirement village just down the road. That will give them a new social life and someone to take care of all the upkeep. And when the time comes when one of them needs more care, they can move into the rest home next door without having to change location again.”
Wiremu’s parents, Tui and Aaron, live in Gisborne. When Tui and Aaron need help, they call Wiremu, their eldest, who lives in Hamilton. He organises things remotely for his parents. Lately, their calls have become more and more frequent, and helping his parents out is taking up a lot more of his time. Wiremu thinks that the family needs to agree on a plan for how they are going to help their parents with the practical day-to-day tasks as they age. They also need to think longer term about where their parents are going to live out their final years.
Unfortunately, Wiremu’s brothers and sisters aren’t all in agreement with this plan, and it’s causing conflict. His brother Tane lives on a rural property just out of Gisborne and thinks his parents should stay in the same area they are familiar with. Tane is also concerned with how much money the retirement village is going to cost (and maybe that will mean that the inheritance won’t be as much as they expected). His sister Ana lives in Australia. She can’t really help her parents on a practical level (although she does call them every couple of weeks for a chat). However, she knows how much work Wiremu puts in to look after them and is happy to help out financially as her contribution to looking after their parents, if that helps reduce some of the workload for Wiremu. Mihi, Wiremu’s youngest sister, lives in Wellington and is really busy with her demanding career and raising her three children as a single parent. She doesn’t have time for much else. Mihi says:
“We should wait and see. Mum and Dad love that house – and we all want it to stay in the family. They’re getting older, sure, but they’re doing really well. I think Wiremu is worrying about nothing.”
How we helped
Wiremu approached Public Trust for assistance. The Personal Assist adviser brought the family together (in person and via Skype) to talk about the issues they are facing and what’s best for their parents. After that discussion they were able to agree that their parents should move into a retirement village, but that it would be in Gisborne so that they could be in the same location they were familiar with. The family home would have to be sold, but they all agreed to go and help prepare the property for sale. “With our trustee guiding us along the way and helping us face facts, we were able to come to a joint decision. None of us really had the time to look after our parents’ financial affairs, so we use the Personal Assist service to manage these instead. We all compromised, but we knew that Mum and Dad’s best interests were at the heart of the plan.”