Move Before You Have To

[Ed Note: Today’s Guest Post comes from Leigh Davies, my mother, a C.M.A. and a 24 year veteran of the property management industry]

I have had a most stressful last 5 days. My parents-in-law, Bill and Hilda are both nearing their 80th birthday, and are still living in their own 5 bedroom house. Both are in fragile health, but have previously resisted our suggestions to relocate them. It all came to a head on Monday night when Hilda fell and broke her arm near her shoulder. Unfortunately, this break can’t be put in a cast, and is immobilized with a sling and a wrap-around her body contraption. This means no cooking, cleaning, dressing, driving, showering, and taking care of Bill. Obviously our family went into crisis mode. This meant I became chief cook and bottle washer. It also meant trying to be a nurse to Hilda until we could arrange more help.

Most of us are unaccustomed to witnessing the pain of others, but when you have to dress and undress someone with a broken arm, this seems inevitable. I found this the hardest part. The prescribed pain killers cause further mental confusion for her. (They also caused her to want to take off the sling and have a shower). I watched as each of the family members tried to come to grips with our situation. After 5 days of providing 16 hour a day care, we are pooped.

I jumped on the phones and called Capital Health, Meals on Wheels, social workers and the dialysis clinic where Bill is a patient three times a weeks. What a great group of people I spoke to! Their were understanding, professional, and caring. The most important person I called was at Canterbury Court, an assisted living facility here in west Edmonton. Thankfully, we were able to get an assessment of their needs done and get them a room for Wednesday.

I have learned a great deal from the last 5 days:

  1. Move before you have to. Don’t live in a house that is larger than you need. Aside from the obvious waste of money, it provides you with more space to put your junk.
  2. Move before you have to. As you age, change your living accommodations to fit you’re your needs. Don’t live in a house with the laundry downstairs, a bathroom with no support rails and is so small you can barely close the door, and stairs to the TV viewing area.
  3. Move before you have to. When the neighbours you used to know either die or move away, move to somewhere where there are people you own age, so you can socialize with them. Don’t become a hermit in your house. Create your own support network.
  4. Move before you have to, so your children won’t spend time worrying about your health and safety. Move before your children are forced into making decisions for you.
  5. Move into a place that nourishes you spirit, instead of a place that reminds you only of past glories and times gone by.

Finally, if you have aging parents, talk to them now. It would have been much less painful if the events of the past 5 days could have been avoided entirely.

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  • I have heard of this situation many times while selling the Californian Meadowlark. Many of the people who live around Meadowlark are seniors and still live in the home they raised their families in. They would come in to the show suite and you could tell one of them was just pacifying the other. Or it’s the children dragging one of the parents around to look at condos as the other parent had passed on recently. I do tell them to move while they can but I probably come off as a pushy salesman.

    Please say hello to Bill and Hilda for me.
    Paul Fitzsimmons
    Abbey Lane Homes

    • A

      Hi Paul, Good to hear from you. I can imagine that being a salesman with a project like that puts you in an awkward position, and I’m glad Leigh took the time to write this post up. It’s important to think ahead about where you’re going to live, and what the next several decades of your life are going to be like.



  • Great to hear you are talking about their housing needs before their choices are limited.

  • Thank you for sharing. I love my father and mother in-law, they are great people and very active. I think they are busier in retirement than they were when they were working. They recently moved from a 3 story home to a bungalow, living much closer to us.

    It has also been great to talk, here and there, about what they want for the future and their housing needs. It has helped us prepare and I think gives them more security about the future as well.

  • Thanks for you comment. We have made lots of progress in clearing the stuuf from the house. We have learned many lessons we can apply to our own life, over the past two weeks.

  • Great Post… it is horrible when you walk into a home that has been lived in for soooo long, and you can’t move. I’ve seen some places that have so much junk in them that there are paths to walk through with boxes and papers stacked on either side of you. This is not an uplifting place to be in, and it’s good to make sure you declutter as much as possible…