Returning Northerners Begin Their Migration to Florida


Returning NorthernersReturning Northerners to Florida are first seen by their car transports arriving. Every October begins the migration of the “snowbirds” who claim South Florida residency. To locals, this means longer waits for doctor appointments and seating at favorite restaurants, let alone very crowded streets. The traffic becomes troublesome and is filled with folks who don’t know, or forget that here; you can make a right turn at most red lights.

Do you have a Local Doctor?

In addition to packing your short sleeved shirts, shorts, tennis rackets and golf clubs, it is strongly recommended to bring information which is crucial should your winter not go as planned. Many returning Northerners do not have a local internist or even specialist in south Florida. Working in home care, like most businesses, our rosters expands during the “season” and it is due to elder snowbirds needing medical care, surgery or rehab because of a fall or other illness. Ask your primary where you are from for a referral or ask friends and family who they can recommend. It is so important to have a continuity of care, especially if you or your aging loved one is managing a disease. Anyone with heart conditions, Diabetes, Parkinson disease or other neuro-degenerative diseases are advised to make contact with a local primary physician or specialist so they will at least have some familiarity with you and have your medical history.

Concerns about Dementia and Change

For aging parents with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, the move can be disruptive and you can expect some setbacks. Even when you have been coming down to Florida for years, as the disease progresses, changes impact each person differently. Any change in locale and routine will likely affect both parents. Yes, the caregiver spouse or parent is now under even more stress. Provide more reassurance and you can expect disruptions to affect mood and behavior. Bring some favorite belongings which comfort your loved one, including photos of their northern home. Explore services in your winter home for Alzheimer’s and dementia. South Florida may in fact have more adult day programs than where you are coming from. Be patient and allow them to get “set up” again in Florida.

What to bring with you to South Florida

~Pack the papers or send them ahead.  If you have had any changes in your medical condition, medications or overall well-being, your Florida doctor should have that up to date information.

~Bring your primary forms of identification.

~If you have a home care aide up North, you likely will need one in Florida. Many ‘snowbirds’ call ahead to their local company, others wait. Let us know in advance.

~Have a Florida file which contains your Emergency contacts, doctors, lawyer, financial planner, Long Term Care insurance agent, funeral arrangements and the like.

~Make sure to have copies of your Medical Directives, Durable Power of Attorney, and Living Will in Florida.

~It is a good idea to have those legal documents, especially the POA in the files of your local doctor and bank.

~Get your flu shot before you come down.

~Things to remember about your home when away.

Basically, if you are setting up your second home here for 3-6 months, consider all the things you have with you up North dealing with your legal and medical information and have them here and easily accessible.

Other things to consider, if you have grab bars or other safety equipment in your primary residence, ditto for Florida. If you have balance issues or is a fall risk, keep wearing safe footwear instead of flip flops or sandals. Be mindful on our roads, there may be new routes or construction since last year.

To all our returning Northerners, “Welcome Back to South Florida”!!!