Dear Mary
My parents refuse to move from their home.

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Dear Mary,

My parents are in their late 70’s and are fighting with me about where they want to live.  I think that they should sell the house and move into a retirement home.  I don’t mean Long Term Care, but one of those places that lets them have their own suite, but the place makes meals and has lots of social interaction for them.  My parents say that they want to stay where they are, and that they will get along just fine.  Their health is ok now but their house has lots of stairs and I worry about them.

Janet

Hi Janet

No matter what age or life situation, we all fight for our independence.  Your parents are telling you that they want control over their lives, to make their own decisions and to “age in place”.

I agree that there are many wonderful new seniors’ living residences that offer great amenities and indeed the social activities can be exciting and fun.

I can remember when my Mom had great difficulty going up and down the stairs.  The pain in her legs made it virtually impossible to get up to bed.  The laundry was in the basement, she could barely get downstairs to do it.  Here is what we did, perhaps you can take a few ideas from our situation and apply them to yours.

My parents agreed to some home renovations.  We re-worked the main floor to add a bathroom with a shower to an already existing bedroom.  We improved the lighting everywhere and changed the worn carpet on the stairs to be a stronger (not so smooth) surface.  We took out the area rugs from the hardwood floors (just less to trip on).  We installed railings and changed the door handles to the levier type.  We however could not change the laundry in the basement.  For the most part, we changed their home from a three to a two story house.  Not perfect, but better.

These changes allowed my parents to stay in their home for another 5 years.  It bought them the extra time and independence that they wanted.  Some days the new living arrangements worked well, some days they did not, but most days were good. Most days they were happy and able to get around well inside their home of 40+ years.

It was not until my Dad’s health was quickly declining that they were forced to move.  We kept their house but my Dad could no longer stay at home (he needed too much medical attention). We moved both parents at the same time, to the same facility.  At a certain point, there were no options.  They had to move.

Try respecting your parents’ wishes and adopt (as best you can) their home to meet their current and future needs while keeping them as safe as possible.  You may want to work with an “aging in place specialist.”  These specialists have training and experience that can help identify the most helpful, practical modifications.  If renovating is not an option, than perhaps your parent would consider moving into a condo or a bungalow, or even a seniors’ building at some point. Often people only move when something happens that forces the change.

The key to this journey is to work with your parents to create a plan that maintains their dignity and independence of safely living in their own home, wherever home may be, while giving you all peace of mind.

Mary

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Caregiving Matters

Mary is a daughter. She also Chairs our charity. Mary has also held Director roles on three other boards, most recently with The Palcare Network of York Region.

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