Why is it that as we age we become even more resistant to change? Not everything about change is hard. We don’t mind getting change at the grocery store. We all change our underwear every day, right? …right? The average person changes jobs twelve times in our working life.
But when it comes time to help our parents/grandparents change their living situation, we face resistance. Especially those who need to move from a house they have loved for 50 years or even more! So how can we help them face the fact that they might not be able to live safely or comfortably in that two story “Peter Pan” house? According to Jon Pyoons, PhD and Professor of Gerontology at UC Davis, the term “describes housing for people who think they are never going to grow up”. CLICK HERE to read the full article.
According to aginginplace.com, these houses include at least some of these 15 elements:
- Multi-level housing
- Miles from transit, bus stop, subway, etc.
- No market nearby (auto-dependant)
- Medical care out of reach
- Neighborhood lacks sidewalks
- Large hills; sloping yards
- Steps to enter the home
- 24” hallways or doorways (that won’t accommodate a walker or wheelchair)
- Rural isolation
- Washer/dryer in basement (or not the main living floor)
- Bathroom upstairs (or not on each floor of living space)
- High maintenance lawn/exterior care
- Older housing stock, aging appliances and utilities
- Clutter (i.e. 2-3 generations of hand-me-down/heirloom furniture)
A brand new article in the Aging Care Newsletter encourages us to “Start by saying, “I know this may be hard to talk about, but I want to honor your wishes. For me to do that, I need to know exactly what they are. We don’t have to decide anything today. But let’s just start the discussion, so we can keep this in mind and focus on preparing for the future.”” The lesson here is to have that conversation now before it becomes an emergency. CLICK HERE to read more.
If it’s appropriate, you can point out to them that their home falls into the Peter Pan category and ask if they have made plans to accommodate for those issues. And, remember, not everyone in that situation is forced to move. If their home can be modified to make it comfortable for them to live on one level, with all the amenities that they need (laundry, safe bathing facilities, all necessary items within reach), it might be possible for them to live in that home they love for several more years. It might mean getting in-home care to help them with daily living activities like cooking, cleaning, bathing and help with medications.
If they can’t remain in that home, then it’s time to begin the next phase and help them find a suitable living situation. That might be in an assisted living facility. Let them know that a move doesn’t necessarily mean that they will lose their independence. In fact, most facilities provide transportation that may help them feel more independent, especially if they are no longer driving their own vehicle.
And, you don’t have to do it alone. Your loved ones’ physician and healthcare providers can help you encourage the proper actions. Their social contacts (who might see them more often than you do if you don’t live nearby) can also help you reinforce the discussion. Their faith group, if they are regular attendees, are another great resource of information and support.
When they are ready for that next move, a Senior Move Manager can also be the advocate you and your parents/grandparents need. We work directly with them to establish their goals – move or age in place – and help them see it through so they can “live life better”! We are just a phone call away, and our consultations are always free.
It’s your move, Golden Bridges can help!
-Susan Scholz, Partner
CLICK HERE for a FREE Consultation