Housing Options

Information and terminology about private and public housing options for seniors.

Downsizing Stress

Posted by on Jun 21, 2011 in Housing Options, Living Arrangements |

You have made the decision to move and “downsize” your living arrangements. You have either decided on your own, acted in part because of pressure from family, or put the decision off for so long that now you must move to a care home for medical reasons. Whatever the reason, downsizing can be a stressful and uncertain life transition. There are common reasons behind the stress, and each person will experience them uniquely and in different proportions. Some common stress triggers are grief, resistance, uncertainty and overwhelm. Here are some thoughts on how to cope with them. Give Grief A Chance First and foremost, allow yourself to grieve. “Downsizing is an end to one phase of your life and it is okay to be sad”, says Dawn Rennie, President of Transitions – Your Moving Facilitators. “Like the day you watched your children move out, leaving your home will be bittersweet. Your new home and lifestyle will mean new friends, new activities and new adventures. But you are leaving your home of many years and possibly your community and friends.” Rennie says it’s vitally important to allow yourself the time to say good-bye to what you are leaving behind.  Hanging on to “Independence” As we age, our physical abilities decline, and we fear losing our “independence”. But we can choose what independence means to us. Does it mean doing everything ourselves? Or does it mean arranging for others to do demanding tasks, and focusing on doing the things you really love to do? When we arrange for others to do the cooking, cleaning, and maintenance, we gain time and energy to spend on travel, volunteering, friends and family, or new hobbies. “You don’t give up your independence when you are the one choosing what you want others to do and who those ‘others’ will be,” says Jan Sali, Managing Director at Transitions. “But you do give up your independence when you allow yourself to decline to the point where others make those decisions for you.”  Fear of the Unknown Not knowing your downsizing options can be stressful, even frightening. To combat this, prepare and gather information, to avoid feeling forced into a decision you know nothing about. Explore all your options – including condominium living, an independent seniors’ residence, or various levels of care homes. Consult a local seniors’ housing directory (in Calgary, published by the Kerby Centre). Inquire at the local seniors’ centre or your municipal offices. Consult with friends who have made the move, interview realtors (if you are buying or selling), or talk to eldercare specialists. Armed with a list of “must haves”, visit the places you are interested in. Many places will give you lunch or dinner and invite you to their special events. Tour their facilities, learn about services and activities. Sample the menus, get a feel for the staff and “culture” of the place, and learn what the particular community is like. Spend enough time at each place see whether it fits with your budget and desired lifestyle. Once you decided where you will move, you will feel relieved, but more anxiety could follow: How will we manage the move?!?!  To avoid feeling overwhelmed, develop a personal moving plan, which includes decisions on the following: 1. Your time frame, e.g., set a goal for being in your new home. 2. What you want to/can take with you. 3. What you can give to family and friends. 4. What possessions are saleable, what can be donated, what needs to be disposed of. 5. Move-out and move-in dates (ideally with a couple of weeks between). 6....

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Aging Parents and Adult Children Living Together? Talk Before You Pack

Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 in Housing Options, Living Arrangements |

Are you considering moving in with your adult children? Are you thinking about having your aging parent(s) move into your home? Whatever your reason, you can expect that some intergenerational households will work well, but others are filled with tension. Moving in together can work, but success is greater when everyone pays attention is paid to each others’ autonomy and where certain things are negotiated beforehand:   Respect Autonomy Seniors have been making their own decisions for a long time. Asking them to give up this independence can create feelings of tension and disrespect – even when the adult child is trying, out of love, to help the parent stay safe and healthy. To the senior, it can feel like the adult child is dictating to them how to live their lives.   Negotiate Important Matters If you are considering living together, ask these questions of yourself and discuss them with each other.  Why do you want to live together? Is this the best choice for all concerned?  Have you evaluated other options: home care, assisted living or a personal care home?  Do family relationships allow you to communicate openly and discuss mutual concerns?  Have you enjoyed extended periods of time together before? Can you have a “trial” period?  Where grandchildren are present, who will be responsible for discipline?   How will you provide privacy for each generation?  How will household chores be divided?  What are the financial issues involved?  How long might this living arrangement last?  What will you do if the arrangement is not working?  Are the parent’s health concerns escalating? Will more care be required?  Do adult children have career commitments, health problems or other issues that may affect their ability to cope?  How will the adult child have respite and holidays?  Who else will help?   Whatever reasons may prompt you to decide to share a home, your family can enjoy the mutual respect, support and contributions of each generation. But please: Talk before you pack!   Vol.2, No.10; © ElderWise Inc. 2006 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc. We provide clear, concise and practical directions for Canadians with aging parents. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter.  ...

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Help Aging Parents Relocate

Posted by on Sep 8, 2010 in Housing Options, Power of Attorney |

Selling and leaving a family home of many years is among the most difficult decisions that face families when an aging parent must move. Often the move is the most tangible symbol of another loss – of health or mobility, or loss of a loved one. It’s hard to prepare for the emotional upheaval of moving an aging parent to a retirement residence or care facility. It’s also difficult to dispose of the family home and contents while grieving the loss of a parent. Senior moves and house clearings may involve family members, executors or persons exercising powers of attorney. The decision to move may be a choice, or it may be a necessity. Families in this situation can turn to the special services provided by senior move managers. These businesses may specialize in working with the elderly, as well as providing house clearing and estate services.  “We’re definitely dealing with a grieving process,” says Dawn Rennie, President of Transitions Inc., which operates throughout Western Canada. “Often, people haven’t anticipated the emotions that come with a loss or with moving on after change.” Dealing with the family home adds another burden at a difficult time. Belongings need to be divided between family and friends. Valuables need to be appraised, sometimes disposed of. After that, it’s packing, supervising the move and preparing the house for sale. All these tasks are time-consuming and can involve complex decisions. The fact that many families are scattered geographically complicates things further. Others simply don’t have the time or physical ability to do the job. Seniors may have no family close by. One elderly spouse may be managing a move for the other. All face physical and emotional challenges when moving house.  “One of the hardest things can be dealing with the paperwork,” says Rennie. “Some clients feel overwhelmed because the other spouse always looked after it. They’re quite relieved when we tell them we’re used to dealing with computers and call centres for all the arrangements that need to be made!” Our aging population means seniors’ moving services are becoming in ever greater demand. For families at a distance, both the logistical help and local support are plusses.  An outside party may bring an objective view to the many decisions that must be made. They can be the extra pair(s) of hands that help with the preparation and coordination. Sometimes, the cost of family travel and taking time off work can be greater than the cost of hiring outside help. “When the move is finally completed, clients are often pleased and relieved to walk into a new place where they’re still surrounded by many of their favorite things,” Rennie explains. “That can make it easier to let go of the past and start anew.” Whether the move is by choice or by necessity, senior move services take on the planning, organizing, co-ordination and supervision. For more information on what’s involved, visit http://movewithtransitions.com/   Vol. 4, No. 13 © ElderWise Publishing 2008. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE...

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We Can’t Go On Like This: Making Smart Housing Transitions

Posted by on Nov 10, 2009 in Housing Options, Living Arrangements |

As health, mobility or other circumstances change in your parents’ lives, it’s natural to start looking at how their living arrangements affect them as well as you and your family. Some of the following situations can cause concern and worry for those with aging parents, whether they live close by or far away. Your parent is recently widowed and you are discussing the idea of having them to move closer to you. They are resisting, in spite of your concern for their well-being. You think it might be time for your parents to down-size and consider a care home, but either this conversation hasn’t been broached…or there’s been a negative reaction when you’ve brought it up.  You are juggling too many balls – career, family and concerns about aging parents. Something has to give. If your parents move to a place that provides more services, your burden is eased. Mom is willing, but Dad says “no way.” In each case, your family is likely feeling some distress. This can show up as: ·        Fear of uncertainty ·        Fear of losing autonomy and independence ·        Stubbornness and resistance to change ·        Power struggles between the generations ·        Denial that a problem exists One way to address the fears is to get better informed about housing options. The good news is that it’s not a choice between one’s own home and a care home. Today’s housing options for older adults include adult lifestyle communities, apartment condos, independent and supportive seniors’ residences, and assisted living. The best option will depend on finances, preferences, and health and mobility needs. To find out what is available in your community, you can contact: ·        A local seniors organization ·        City or municipal offices ·        Provincial government websites (look under services for seniors) Unfortunately, living in denial and failing to plan ahead can have unpleasant consequences – emotional, practical, and financial.  But where do you start? Talking in depth as a family about what’s happening now and what could possibly happen in future is the first step.  If family dynamics are difficult, having the conversation may be the main challenge. Think about these ideas to help you to talk to each other.  Preparing for the conversation, DON’T:  Expect quick decisions, especially when there are several options to consider. “Parent your parent”. Meet as adults who are seeking a win-win solution. Think you can get an adult to do anything unless they want to do it. During the conversation, DO: See it as a series of discussions. Take small steps. Express concern in concrete terms; talk about what you’ve noticed. Talk about what the concern means to you practically and emotionally. Share experiences – both positive and negative – from others in similar situations. During the conversation, DON’T: Fall into conversation roles and patterns that have not worked in the past. Try a different approach. See the situation as either/or. Unless serious health problems exist, there are usually options for the next step. Here are a few more things for both parents and adult children to keep in mind: Planning in advance and for the long term increases a family’s options – and makes a “move of choice” more likely. There are costs, benefits and trade-offs whether you’re staying, moving, or waiting. A move too soon can be as bad as a move too late. Taking too strong a position, whether you are the parent or adult child, can affect the well-being of another family member. Consider more than the physical needs that housing satisfies. Social connections and a sense of belonging also keep you healthy. If talking...

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