5 Common Mistakes Adult Children Make and How to Avoid Them

Mistake #1:  Waiting until a crisis occurs to have the conversation about housing and care options is the number one mistake we see in most families.

Studies show that while the majority of adult children with aging parents report that they “know” the desires of elder parents, despite the absence of such actual relevant conversations, their perceptions do not actually align with parents’ wishes,

While optimism is admirable, the combination of denial and lack of preparedness are recipes for disaster when it comes to preparing to care for an aging parent.

Crisis-driven moves tend to result in sub-optimal outcomes, fewer amenable options, strained relationships and regrets. Planning ahead and having a series of conversations is the key.


Mistake #2:  Failing to adequately equip the home with accessibility features allowing for safe and successful aging-in-place.

The majority of older adults indicate that they want to remain in their current residence until the end, and in many cases, this is optimal. Often however, a long-held opinion and desire to “stay put” is neither feasible nor fruitful if the home and community are not adequately equipped.

When choosing to remain in the home, even temporarily, equipping it with as many safety features as possible and organizing necessary in-home services is critical.

Mistake #3:  Lack of knowledge about the abundance of senior living lifestyles and supportive care options available.

Among the most difficult tasks when assisting older adults with a transition is the actual decision of where to move.


Information online is hard to find, and often equally as challenging to understand.

Unfortunately, when the time comes to make a move – frequently under hurried or abrupt circumstances – decisions are made without full knowledge of available options resulting in secondary moves, nagging regrets, and unnecessary expense.

A great deal of time, energy, and frustration can be saved by merely researching and understanding senior care and living options in advance.

Mistake #4:  Trying to manage the liquidation of the estate and personal items alone.

Once the decision to move has been made, the question becomes, “What do we do with all this stuff?” Sorting, organizing, and selecting personal belongings to be moved, deciding what to do with the things left behind, and managing the liquidation process can be extremely time consuming.

Family members handling decades of personal belongings stored in every nook and cranny of the home in an attempt to be helpful often adds to the underlying tension between parents, siblings, and other relatives.

Whether burdened with a sense of duty, or lacking knowledge of the available resources, many caregivers attempt to tackle the estate liquidation process without adequate support, ultimately costing them precious time, expense, and frustration.

Having a professional who knows the process and has access to resources is a key to simplifying the process. 

Mistake #5:  Inadequate or inappropriate documentation.

Without adequate and appropriate documentation, unforeseen circumstances can impede the sale, purchase, or relocation process. While it is an unfortunate reality (and one that most people choose to deny), the likelihood for illness or cognitive impairment increases with age.

Family members, and elders alike, must prepare for the possibility of delegating the management of finances – including the sale of property and relocation details – to a trusted third party or professional advisor.

This requires specific legal documentation, especially relating to the home sale and purchase processes. Knowing who to call and preparing early is an important first step in preventing this mistake

“With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.”

 – Mark Twain