Bringing your parents to Israel is a mitzvah – and a major undertaking. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you with the process.
The reasons for moving are many. Your parents may want to be closer to you and their grandchildren, or they may need your care and attention. They may be fulfilling a life-long dream or escaping a harsh climate. Whatever the reasons, careful planning can help make the easier and more enjoyable for everyone.
The first thing to determine is where your parents will live. If they’re going to live with your family, then you need to assure that your home is suitable. A 5th-floor walk-up is probably not going to be a good option for parents in their 70’s. If your building has an elevator or is otherwise accessible, you may need to make small changes such as installing handrails, a seat for the bath or shower, and a riser for the toilet seat.
Will you be able to keep the level of privacy that you and your parents require? Will you need separate entrances?
Especially if you work full-time outside the home, you might need help caring for your parents. Live-in and live-out caregivers are available from agencies, and there are also day-care programs for seniors in some areas. Since it may take 6-8 weeks to arrange a care-giver, start the process well before your parents’ moving date.
The cost of live-in caregivers is a fraction of what they are in North America. $1,000 plus room and board with 1 day off a week for a caring and competent helper is about 10% what you would pay in Los Angeles through an agency.
If your home isn’t suitable, or your parents want a more independent environment or need intensive medical care, a retirement home or care facility may be a better option.
If your parents are healthy and can manage most things on their own, they may only need your help finding an apartment and dealing with Hebrew-language bureaucracy, utilities, etc.
Educate your parents about the realities of Israeli apartments. Large furniture and appliances will not fit in smaller apartments and storage space is usually at a premium compared with homes in North America. Sorting through a lifetime of accumulated possessions, some rich with memories, is an emotional process that should not be rushed. Start well before Shipping date.
Even if your parents are leaving most of their furniture behind, shipping a familiar bed or comfortable chair, plus favorite books and pictures, can help make them more comfortable in their new home.
Nefesh b”Nefesh Informal Guide to Bringing Your Elderly Parents to Israel
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