My House or Yours?
Many of us have aging parents, and some of us are the aging parents. What is your plan for when your parent can no longer live alone?
My family had a plan. We just didn’t realize we would ever actually implement it! My mother loves her home, and we all agreed that she would stay in her home no matter what. Approximately nine months ago, what had always been a joking conversation with my mother when asked “Are you ready for me to move in with you?” became more serious when she answered, "perhaps we should think about that for 2018."
I was surprised but interested that my fiercely independent mother was coming to terms that she might be better off with someone living with her. Ironically and thankfully, shortly after that conversation, I got a tremendous piece of advice from a dear friend whose mother has lived with them for the past 17 years. “If you are going to live together, make the move before it’s absolutely necessary.”
We began planning for some renovations of my mother’s house to accommodate me moving in with her. Many people have asked why she did not move into my house. Although my house is newer, the layout is not as conducive as hers, and honestly, the whole point was to keep her in her own home. My house was never supposed to be my “forever home,” like hers.
Right around the same time I started trying to figure out how and who to hire as a general contractor, Mom broke a vertebra, had surgery, and spent three weeks recovering at my house. Our “absolutely necessary” had arrived, and we began to accelerate the process. With renovations due to start in early January, the unthinkable happened, Mom fell and broke another vertebra!
These injuries created the need to renovate her house with mobility and access as the priority because she was now using a walker full time. I contacted 101 Mobility, whose owner is also part of the Universal Design Coalition, to come and do a free evaluation of her house. It was tremendously helpful to learn room by room what might be necessary to ensure Mom could return to living comfortably in her home again.
I also attended a workshop presented by the UF/IFAS Extension of Sarasota County on Housing, which gave some great suggestions like installing a paver driveway and an inclined walkway to eliminate steps.
We are grateful Sarasota is an age-friendly community with many resources available to help people of all ages and abilities. While we’ve learned many lessons during these past nine months, I wish I had known more about the overall process when we began this journey. Thankfully, the Universal Design Coalition assisted in helping me find contractors that are certified for aging in place, and that’s made all the difference so that Mom can stay in her “forever home.”
- TAGS: Issues to Aspirations, Outputs to Outcomes
- CATEGORIES: Housing, Community Support and Health Services