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It took 4 years to get my mother to agree to move from her 3-storey Toronto townhouse with laundry in the basement to a 2 bedroom apartment with everything on one floor (no ensuite laundry) and a view of downtown that reminds her of New York. The day she moved in she was both happy and annoyed. “Now I have to go all the way to the basement to do my laundry” she lamented to my brother who had flown in from China to help with the transition. Always practical he replied matter of factly, “Mom, you carried your laundry basket up and down 3 flights of stairs for 20+ years. Now you have your own elevator” and smiled. That one little change of perspective made her smile when she realized that she really would have a much easier time with laundry.
Many seniors are not interested in downsizing their homes and they’re certainly not interested in moving to a senior living opportunity no matter how great they are or what kind of improved lifestyle they will have because they don’t see it that way. How do you move them from resisting changed to engaged, interested or curious about new “opportunities” when they’re just not ready? Frankly, it’s impossible in the moment. It will take time (read “years”) and a focused “team” to overcome a challenging moving situation.
As an adult child of a senior parent you can take time to explore the many Toronto 1) independent living, 2) assisted living and, 3) long-term care options years in advance while you’re arranging help for your parents to stay in their home over the next few years ie. home health care, tub bars, snow removal, lawn care, etc. It will also help you avoid negative feelings and emotions that come when a needless crisis occurs because you will have discussed “future” plans in advance.
Waiting for a crisis to occur puts everyone at a disadvantage. Most of us do not operate at our best at these highly emotional, highly anxious times. Senior parents are still parents and they’re afraid of losing their life-long independence. The reality is that we all strive to be independent and often do not want assistance in OUR homes at any age. Maybe they hiding physical problems that limit everyday tasks or requirements like getting into the bathtub or they do not realize how serious their memory problems are until there is one too many issues or a crisis arises. Unfortunately, for those who do not see their parents in their own homes on a regular basis find out. We don’t see the lack of upkeep or the daily struggle or frustrations.
If you think there are senior medical issues get a physician’s assessment early and create the space to solve potential issues before dealing with the drama surrounding a specific need. Be proactive. Take action and explore options as needed. Include siblings or anyone else who needs to be involved. You may not always agree on everything but at least everyone who needs to be aware of and involved is part of the equation. The key is focusing on your senior family member’s needs for living safely in their home. You can then collectively reach outward to any professionals required ie lawn care, snow removal, plumbing, roofing, bathtub safety installments, cleaning services, etc. Everyone wins when you have time to educate yourself on options. Who doesn’t love having options?
The roles we play as children change as our parents start to shift from autonomous and independent 70’s (and maybe 80-somethings) will require practice, patience (oh, so much patience) and a pure commitment to becoming their trusted advisor on an as-needed basis. It doesn’t come with a handbook just like raising children doesn’t come with a handbook. And, sometimes it will feel like you’re pushing water up hill.
As 1 of 30 Master Accredited Seniors Agent specifically trained to help seniors with staying in their home and eventually downsizing I can help. Check out this video for more. If you need help building your exceptional network of trusted advisors to help you through each stage along the way let me know.