• Laurie Bell

Is it Time?



For some of us this time of year offers a post-holiday reality check.  Mom and Dad may not be doing as well as they have been.   Mom had a little stumble on the basement stairs and, while she is lucky to be dealing with only mild discomfort, could this be a gentle wake-up call for everyone?

It also seems that Mom has been curtailing activities before her sprain.  She has lost two of her closest friends over the last eighteen months and another has moved out of the area to be close to her two daughters. Her long running bridge group seems to be on permanent hiatus… .

Mom isn’t keeping the house up like she once did either.  They still have a cleaning service but Mom doesn’t seem to have the energy to tidy up the surfaces before each visit.  We used to tease her about pre-cleaning before the cleaning lady comes but stuff definitely seems to be piling up in the kitchen and living room. The dining room table seems to have turned into a “not so temporary parking lot” for anything waiting to be moved to somewhere else.  Clothing seems to be piled on any and all available services in the bedroom too. What’s going on with that?  My sister-in-law and I discreetly threw out a few expired items in the fridge when we were there but it would take a few hours to really do justice to the kitchen and bathroom. We don’t want to just toss old medications into the garbage either… .

Dad has an appointment booked next month with his specialist but it seems like the house may be just becoming too much to manage. They have lived there for forty three years and each of us has memories that are tied to that home. It’s tough for everyone to take on the enormity of that kind of change and really there is just so much stuff… .

My siblings can’t seem to agree on much of anything as well.  Everyone genuinely wants the best for Mom and Dad but that “best” looks different for each of us.  

It may be time to gently broach a few conversations over the upcoming weeks.  We all know that these sorts of things rarely get resolved in one or two chats… .  Other issues may be looming as well.  How long will Dad be able to drive?  What will happen if one of them suddenly passes and the remaining spouse is alone in the house?  It seems like they have only managed to keep things going because of their different and cobbled abilities.

We have spent time together over the Holidays and, as 2016 looms, we may be facing a year of change. Is it time to seriously explore Mom and Dad’s options?  Some additional support at home may be the best thing for now.  A future move to either a condo or to a retirement residence could lift the responsibilities associated with keeping up their “also aging” house.   Mom and Dad could definitely benefit from all of the social interactions and the perks most often associated with life on a cruise ship.  Something to consider for sure and many retirement residences offer respite or trial stays.

It is true that the most successful transitions occur when older adults are able to make their own decisions about these things.  We can sensitively guide them but ultimately having a voice and a choice can make the difference between surviving a move and thriving in their new environment. Every individual and situation is different but it is definitely preferable to make informed decisions before there is a crisis.  If the choice is to keep the status quo it is always good to have a Plan B… .

Is it time?  Lots to think about as we head into 2016.


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