Helping aging parents and others who are willing to relocate out of the family home and into an elder-friendly environment is one thing. Expect an altogether different experience when your elders dig in their heels and refuse to move under any circumstance.
When home-safety is seriously compromised, or medical matters are too much to handle, and your elders make it perfectly clear that they intend to stay put at all costs, you may wonder if there is anything you can realistically do before something bad happens to them.
As a way to be helpful, I will share my moving-a-reluctant-elder experiences in a blog series in the hopes that you can put my mistakes and learnings to good use.
Here we go…
Fifty years living in the same house. My Aunt is 79 years old. The house she refuses to leave behind holds many memories – good, and the bad. I watch as she makes her best attempts to negotiate the rooms where life once unfolded. Rooms where my Aunt and Uncle raised three children. Rooms where families gathered together for holiday dinners and life celebrations. Rooms where we mourned the loss of newly departed loved ones.
The house is who my Aunt is. Every nook and cranny is her — from the dark wood paneling to the doilies carefully placed on the hall curio. Fifty years of family life wrapped up in 1400 square feet.
Evidence of a pending move is clear. She is unable to keep up with house-cleaning chores. The roof is falling apart and will cost a lot of money to repair – money she does not have. The yard and garden must now be tended to by (expensive) professionals. She is forgetful. She falls regularly to the point of getting stitches on her leg. Once an avid chef, now she no longer cooks for herself and relies on unhealthy fast-food. She continues to drive (a casualty of suburban-life) despite her fears of the car breaking down and getting lost.
None of these clues-to-move add up in my Aunt’s mind. She proclaims that she is perfectly fine and not moving. That’s that. No means no.
I completely understand and sympathize. And yet, I know from years of personal caregiving experience with loved ones that I can (and will) find a way to open the dialogue to turn this situation around for the better. My Aunt’s safety is at serious risk.
So, my dear readers, I’ll be blogging about this journey along the way. Stay with me as we experience the journey together. I know one thing for sure: it’s going to be a wild ride. Moving a reluctant loved one out of the house always is.