Estate Planning

Is It Wrong To Move Away From Elderly Parents? My Advice

Ty McDuffey


As you start to get older, you may find yourself weighing the pros and cons of moving away from your elderly parents. 

Although your thoughts about moving may be driven by job prospects, personal relationships, or the pursuit of a higher quality of life for your children, it may raise ethical concerns regarding adult children's responsibilities to care for their elderly parents.

Is it ethically immoral to leave parents as they reach the end of their lives? What is the responsibility of adult children to their elderly parents?

Feelings of shame for abandoning parents who may or may not rely on you for assistance with daily life tasks are quite prevalent. 

But that doesn't mean you have to abandon your idea of relocating; there are methods to overcome this shame by looking at your push and pull elements - what is drawing you to make a move and what may be pulling you away.

This article explores the intricacies of this dilemma, examining the different elements that impact the choice to leave elderly parents and the possible consequences of doing so.

Key Takeaways:

  • Moving to a new place may be motivated by career prospects, financial considerations, love and marriage, culture and acceptance, quality of life, curiosity, and adventure.

  • Moving away from elderly parents can cause guilt due to the natural obligation to care for them during their cognitive decline and the loss of day-to-day observation that can be difficult to replace. Unresolved disputes or regrets might also exacerbate feelings of guilt.

  • Ways to reduce the relocation stress on elderly parents include discussing plans, gathering local resources, making caregiving arrangements, staying in touch, visiting frequently, seeking help from relatives, and using technology to stay connected.

What is Motivating You to Move to a New City, State, or Country?

Moving to a new location may be exciting since it allows you to start over or explore new possibilities. 

There are potentially endless reasons why you might be contemplating a relocation.

Professional and career prospects might be compelling reasons for relocating. A new job, school, or internship may be available in certain parts of the country. IT workers, for example, may relocate to Silicon Valley, while fashion designers may choose New York, and actors and producers may choose Los Angeles.

A move may also be motivated by financial considerations, especially if your business can thrive in a new place where the cost of living is reduced.

Love and marriage may also play a role. Long-distance relationships may be tough to sustain if a partner's new job or education requires relocation. Young adults living in small towns may want to explore relocating to places with more suitable bachelors and bachelorettes.

Culture and acceptance may be motivators, particularly if one wishes to live in an ethnically diverse community that is more tolerant of same-sex couples or interracial marriage. Religious beliefs may also play a role in persons relocating to a new place where their religion is not prohibited.

Another factor to consider is the quality of life for raising a family. Relocating to a new city may give a family a better quality of life, such as access to outstanding schools and a safe environment.

Curiosity and adventure may also drive someone to relocate. Being bored with a habit may contribute to unhappiness, and pursuing new experiences might help you break free from that pattern.

Push factors might drive you to move away from home. For example, the sudden closure of a large employer in your area could leave you unemployed, or tension with a former partner or toxic ex might be a reason to put miles between yourself and your current home. 

Regardless of your reason, it is important to nail down what is motivating you to move to a new town, state, or country before taking further steps. 

Fact: Moving Away from Elderly Parents Can Cause Guilt

Now that you've identified what's attracting and repelling you, it's time to consider what you're feeling and what it means. 

Tell yourself: It is natural to feel an obligation and responsibility to care for an elderly parent as an adult child. Moving away during their cognitive decline might seem like leaving them at a time when they need you the most, and the loss of day-to-day observation can be difficult to replace. 

Now, ask yourself further: what is causing the shame of leaving elderly parents? Is the emotion justified? What are your options?

It’s true that there is a specific bond with family that cannot be replicated in any other way except in person. 

Family gatherings and unexpected visits create memories and bonds that cannot be duplicated from afar. When demanding parents are involved, the stress and pressure of being physically unavailable may be painful, and emotions of bitterness, indifference, and guilt may occur. 

Unresolved disputes or regrets might exacerbate feelings of guilt. You may have reservations about leaving unsolved problems with your elderly parents. 

Additionally, losing the ability to watch over your aging parents might make you feel terrible about not being able to fully care for them, especially if they remind you of it. 

However, keep in mind that your parents may also relocate. Your parents may run into financial difficulties and be compelled to downsize. Many seniors gradually come around to downsizing in their golden years, meaning the distance between you and your parents and your guilty conscience may not be permanent. 

Moving away from elderly parents is a difficult choice that is sometimes accompanied by emotions of shame and discomfort. Finding a means to reconcile these feelings is critical to make the best choice for you and your elderly parents.

7 Ways to Reduce the Stress of Your Relocation on Your Elderly Parents

If you are concerned about the well-being of your elderly parents, the following section has some helpful tips. There are many options for minimizing the effect of your relocation on elderly parents and gathering local resources for them before you go.

Discuss Your Plans

Remember, you're making an announcement. You are not requesting permission (if you find this idea difficult, it may be time to take a close look at where your boundaries are). After all, you are an adult.

Still, you want to show your parents common courtesy and respect and give them enough time to prepare for your upcoming move. Tell them what excites you about the move, the advantages of relocating, and how you came to your decision.

Even if you have the best reasons for moving, don't expect your parents to be completely on board right away. They may complain or even try to persuade you not to do it. You could be shocked to learn that they are not more excited for you or as supportive as you hoped.

Don't Promise Anything

You could be tempted to promise a flurry of trips back home before your relocation. Please refrain from doing so! If you don't follow through, your parents will be disappointed.

You never know what will happen when you settle into your new surroundings. You may not have enough vacation time or money to return home.

Instead, tell your parents that you'll contact them to arrange a visit as soon as you've settled down, have a better feel of your job or school schedule, and better understand your financial situation. What you can guarantee are frequent phone or video chat check-ins.

Install and Use Technology Suitable to Your Parent’s Skills

We all know that technology has made global communication better, quicker, and easier than ever before. But, it is only as good as the user.

Set aside some time to sit with your less tech-savvy parents and teach them the correct usage of any device. You may need to get them a smartphone with prepaid data or a tablet so they can interact with you as needed.

Most people are unaware of what it takes to assist elders in adopting new technologies, but some techniques include: 

  • Placing written and visual instructions near the device

  • Watching them while they practice using the device 

  • Making sure there is someone nearby they can contact if problems arise (a nerdy nephew who can help or even the local Verizon store rep)

Get Local Support to Help Your Parents

If you were performing a lot of caregiving for an older parent, your departure might mean that this responsibility gets passed on to another sibling or family member. 

Work out how duties will be allocated in the future and how your parent's needs will be funded to minimize anger or confusion amongst family members.

Communicate Care Requirements

You could have "parent meetings" with your family around twice a year over a couple of wine glasses. Here is where you can iron out and divide caregiving responsibilities, as well as analyze changes in your parents' needs.

If you don't have a sibling, aunt, or uncle to join you at the meeting, you can work with your parents to find another trusted family member or friend or look into hiring a home healthcare provider in your city.

Find More Help

Professional caregivers may help with things like food shopping, cooking, and trips to the doctor. 

If you choose a professional service, you should be there when the homecare worker is initially presented to your parent(s), so you can screen them and describe their caring obligations. 

Regardless of how far away you are, ensure the agency or caregiver has a direct way to reach you and that you are designated as the emergency contact.

You could also hire a young neighbor to check in on your parents or contact a local handyman who is prepared to fix any issues that arise in your parent's home. 

For more help, contact your local Area Council on Aging or aging services group. They tend to emphasize free or low-cost care for severely handicapped, high-need, low-income, and solitary elders.

Costs of Moving Away from an Elderly Parent

Moving away from family, especially elderly parents, may come with various expenses and effects, depending on the distance and kind of relocation. 

The greater the distance traveled, the greater the expenses for travel time, planning, and preparation. The expenses and logistical obstacles increase with distance, from a short drive to cross-country or international moves. 

Additionally, the distance between you and your elderly parents might come with emotional costs, such as impacting your relationships and the degree of connection you share.

Moving a Few Hours' Drive from Elderly Parents

There will be changes if you relocate within a few hours' drive of your elderly parents. However, this kind of move has the smallest impact on your money and family ties.

Living within a few hours' drive means you can provide emotional and physical care to your elderly parents.

For example, if your trip time is just a couple of hours, it is possible to see your elderly parents every Sunday (or whichever day of the week you are free from job commitments). Keeping a weekly or bi-weekly visiting plan can help you maintain a close relationship and give emotional support to your elderly parents.

If you live 'close-ish,' you are also more likely to assist with medical visits or even post-surgical recovery. And since it requires less traveling from you, the financial cost is less, but the emotional return is tremendous for both you and your parents. 

Long-Distance 'Day Trip' to See Elderly Parents

A lengthy distance or full-day drive to elderly parents, as opposed to a couple of hours, is a high-demand situation to find yourself in. If this is an option, it should be carefully considered since it comes with high costs and adjustment difficulties.

Long-distance living strains emotional and financial relationships, presumably restricting visits to holidays and care for elderly parents to emergencies only.

Increases in vehicle upkeep, rising gas prices, potential hotel expenses for overnight stays, and time away from work are examples of monetary costs. Because of the difficulties of living far away, even the best coupon seeker and penny pincher will spend more.

The emotional cost might be even greater. When it comes to spending time with family, birthdays, holidays, and other milestone events are crucial. It can be emotionally exhausting to miss these events and be apart from people you care about and who rely on you.

Plane Tickets to See Elderly Parents

Moving a distance away from elderly parents that requires a plane ticket or a multi-day trip is not recommended in many cases. The high emotional and financial costs could outweigh the benefits of such a change.

The costs of plane travel and time missed from work can quickly add up, causing you to struggle financially and suffer from slowed career growth. 

The emotional costs are also great. If your parent has a sudden medical emergency, it's not easy to be by their side immediately if you have to book a flight and spend several days traveling to see them. In the event of rapidly deteriorating health or an accident, you might be too far away to spend time with your parents during their final moments. 

If you’re considering moving a distance away from your elderly parents that would require air travel, carefully consider the pros, cons, and emotional and financial burdens that could come with the relocation. 

How Can Trustworthy Help?

If you're considering moving away from your elderly parents, Trustworthy is here to help you navigate this difficult decision. 

With a wide range of services and resources, Trustworthy can provide you with the support you need to make the best decision for yourself and your family.

Trustworthy offers a wealth of information and resources on caring for elderly parents on our blog. From legal considerations to practical tips on caregiving, our blog is a one-stop shop for all your needs.

Trustworthy can also help you take the necessary steps to ensure that your parents are well taken care of upon your departure. 

With Trustworthy, you can upload and share financial and health-related documents with your parents so you’re always prepared to make a legal decision when the situation arises, whether that means finding a new caregiver, moving your parents into a senior living community, or exploring other options.

In conclusion, if you're considering moving away from your elderly parents, Trustworthy is here to help you. With the help of our team of professionals, extensive resources, and a supportive community, you can make the best decision for your family and move forward with confidence and peace of mind.

Sign up for your free 14-day trial today.