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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Bell

Things are Not Always What They Seem. . .

I shared this photo on my Facebook page recently and was surprised at just how much it seemed to resonate. In the same week I also had a conversation with a professional in her late twenties. I was reminded of how simple life must seem to some…

When this woman heard what I do at Moving Seniors with aSmile Inc., she immediately shared that her Grandfather had moved in with her Aunt and how perfect that was for everyone. She went on to say how living with family was absolutely always betterthan being surrounded by strangers in a “home” and seemed quite put out when my response was a little more nuanced.

Of course I was happy for this woman’s Grandfather and her family if indeed things are as they seem. In the course of my work though, I see family situations that honestly aren’t quite that perfect underneath the surface. Escalating health and mobility issues, mental health issues, marital discord, overwhelming and conflicting demands for time and energy and even personality and value differences can make circumstances that are less than ideal - and sometimes quite isolating.

I also see retirement residences that I would personally be delighted to live in when the time is right. Excellent food prepared by a chef, intelligent company, activities to keep my mind and body flexible – what’s not to like? I should also add that we do not have children so moving in with an adult child won’t be an option and frankly, it isn’t a real option for many.

There does seem to be a significant awareness gap out there though. I have heard many people group together terms like “nursing homes” (currently referred to as long term care facilities) with a range of retirement residence options that are truly worlds apart. Admittedly there are significant cost differences but getting acquainted with the available options before there is a health crisis beats scrambling for potential housing solutions during a time of crisis.

My own downsizing and senior move management services appeal to older adults and their busy family members who want sensitive, knowledgeable and objective support for their aging parent(s) as they prepare to make a transition. These people are typically moving from a large family home to either a condominium or a retirement residence. These older adults have often lived in their homes for decades and they are usually moving to significantly smaller space. Decisions about what to take, what to sell, what to give away and what to do with what’s left over can be tough ones to face. Choices can be further complicated by family members who mean well but just can’t seem to agree with each other or their aging parent(s). I sometimes share the story of one older client in her late eighties who put her hand on my arm one day and shared that her daughter had a hard time dealing with change…

That same client had four children all of whom are in their fifties or sixties. They were each willing to help their mother on weekends but all were giving her conflicting advice throughout the process. This wise woman did not want to seem to be taking sides or risk alienating any of her children so she called me in. Of course she wanted us to help with the physical aspects of her upcoming move but mostly she wanted me to manage the complex family dynamics that she was experiencing so that everyone could feel on-side.

I often find myself advocating for the older adult in these situations.Their desires can sometimes be the quietest ones in the room but honestly, these are the preferences that matter the most. Different values and different priorities can sometimes result in the most vocal family member being the one who decides which chair Mom takes with her. I happen to believe that Mom should take the chair that she wants, provided that it fits of course! Incidentally, space planning is another of the services provided. We also pack in one day and set everything up following the move so that your transition or that of your parent(s) is both seamless and emotionally supported!

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