Ok, guys. I've been thinking....

Dad's starting another one of "those" conversations with the family. And the kids (who are now in their 40s), release a collective sigh. As Dad has been looking to his future and how it all might play out, he's been keeping them informed of what he wants done and what he most definitely does not want done. On their part, the kids have learned that when Dad's "been thinking," it's probably going to be an uncomfortable talk circling around either incapacititation or end of life issues.

And, like most of us, the kids just want to go on believing Dad will always be there, will always be making his own decisions, and will not be making them face the future - at least not yet. ("Yet" has a way of being postponed in most cases.)

However, once Dad gets on a roll, he likes to follow through until he's satisfied with the result. In this case, he wants to know what options are out there should he decide at some time move. And so:

Ok, guys, I've been thinking...what if I decide that I want to move somewhere else?

The thoughts racing through the family's collective heads are many. Such as:

"But this is the family home."

"That won't happen, Dad."

"Why would you want to even think about that?"

They have, however, gained some experience - if not wisdom - in dealing with Dad lately as he continues to map out his possible futures, so they choose to think these questions rather than ask them. If they do ask, Dad is prepared. Like he said: He's been thinking.

He knows his kids and can guess the questions that are bothering them - and his responses, such as:

I know this is the "family" home, but I only use a small part of it anymore.

Anything can happen.

Sometimes I get lonely. And sometimes I don't really feel safe at night. And sometimes I might just feel like making a change.

Before he looks at specific types of places, he's made a list of how to go about it, and a couple reminders for himself. First the reminders: Home is where you live, and that can mean just about anyplace he decides is home. Secondly, if and when he decides to make a move, it's not a thus-it-is-and-ever-shall-be decision. If it isn't working out, he'll look at other options. His list of how to approach it works out to:

? Arrange for a visit. Getting brochures or information on-line is one thing. Actually seeing the place and getting a gut feeling about it is a lot more critical.

? Talk to people who live there. They've been there, done it.

? Talk to the administration: How much independence and privacy will I have? What are the costs involved? What about visitors?

? Drop in. This may give you a different view than a pre-arranged "tour". And do it at different times of the day to get an overall view.

? Take time to compare and think about what I want to do.

Armed with his plan of attack, and having had another conversation with the kids, Dad's ready to go exploring. We'll go along with him.

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