WHEN SHOULD SENIORS MAKE THE MOVE?

BY PETER SCHWARTZ

As we age we find ourselves not always able to do the things we use to do. We might not be able to drive as well. We may have a little difficulty navigating stairs. We may require a little more light to read. We may not hear quite as well as we use to. We may not have the energy we use to.

These are all possible signs of aging. These signs often creep into our lives slowly. Sometimes we may not even be aware of these subtle changes. Most people are independent and would like to stay that way. Any suggestion by family members that we need to make changes sometimes brings anger and resentment toward our loved ones. Sometimes our loved ones are afraid to broach the subject because they know it will be less than well received. I have experience with this topic.

I come from a large extended family. When I was in my late teens our family had a terrible experience with our maternal grandmother. She was the matriarch of our family. She raised 9 children. She was fiercely independent. She lived in the home that she raised her family in. My grandfather died long before I was born. She cooked for herself and did her own laundry. As I remember it she was around 90 when tragedy struck. Her laundry was in the basement. She fell down the stairs and broke her hip. She laid at the bottom of the stairs for a day and a half before we found her. She survived her fall but never lived in her home again.

Times were different back then. Nursing facilities were much different back then. They also did not have single level senior townhomes, condos or campuses that they have today.

Fast forward 25 years later. My mother inherited grandma’s independence. She also lived in a home with laundry in the basement. We did not want her to follow in grandma’s footsteps. I was chosen to have “The Talk” with her. It was not well received. I think she didn’t talk to me for a week. It took many conversations with her to soften her up to the idea of change. I told her we loved her and did not want to lose her. She finally relented. We found a brand new 55 or older building for her and she was able to pick the unit, carpet color and paint. It made it more like her idea. She was more in the decision making process.

I thanked God every day that we were able to pull it off. She settled in and enjoyed her new surroundings. It was the best thing we could have done for her.

In our business I see to many seniors who waited too long to make the move. This topic is very difficult to broach with a parent or loved one . I know by experience, and some say it’s even harder to convince “DAD” to make changes.

We have coached a few families on how the can go about navigating the subject of change. When seniors fall and get injured many times they may never make it back home. Injuries often lead to loss of driving privileges. This means loss of independence.

If your loved ones absolutely refuse to leave their home for somewhere safer, I strongly urge you to “Seniorize” their home. Today there are many modifications that can be made to homes to make them safer for your loved ones. You do not want to make the mistake of waiting too long. Many people don’t think about it until something bad happens. I urge you all to stay ahead of the problem. The alternative can alter the lives of the entire family.