Your mother or grandmother has been living by herself for some time, perhaps for many years. The family home has kept her fixed in place, but you’re not sure that’s a good thing. Moreover, you worry that living alone will be her undoing, and you want to make sure she is safe. A new living situation is the ideal solution. Here’s what to keep in mind when working toward that answer.
The home is too big. Mom lives by herself in the family home with four or five bedrooms to manage on top of several bathrooms and other living areas. A younger version of this woman could handle it all by herself. But at her advanced age, mom can no longer take care of the property. This alone is good reason to consider a smaller home.
Too many stairs and other dangers. One floor living is ideal for older people, but your mother has a three-story home plus a basement to navigate. It wouldn’t be so much of a problem if mom stayed on one floor, but she can’t and she won’t. The steepest stairs to the basement has you worried and for good reason — she’ll take those stairs at least once per week to check on the furnace and to ensure that no critters have taken up residence.
The home is in disrepair. For whatever reasons — financial or otherwise — your mom’s home is not in top shape. The gutters are clogged, the roof needs to be replaced and the siding is faded. The front walk may be cracked and the driveway has loose sections. Inside is another troubling area — paint may be peeling, the kitchen floor could be worn out, and plumbing problems have been surfacing all over the house. When a home isn’t maintained, its value drops. It also becomes a safety hazard.
Taxes are too high. When your mother or her husband worked, maintaining the home, paying taxes, and covering the insurance bill was not a challenge. On a fixed income it has become one. Rising taxes can make things difficult for seniors even with a pensioner discount included. Property taxes seldom fall, therefore the continued erosion of a fixed income is a very real problem for your mom.
Caring for the yard is no longer possible. One expense that seniors don’t always consider when holding on to a home is the care of the yard. The grass needs to be seeded and cut, leaves raked, and branches collected. The larger the property, the more tedious the work. Just pulling a lawn mower out of a shed or a garage is difficult enough. Never mind getting to the service station to replenish the gas. Yard care overhead disappears if the home is sold.
No one lives close by. Perhaps the most unnerving thing for children or grandchildren of the aged is caring for a senior relative miles from their home. Sure, the Internet and phone provide contact opportunities, but you cannot always be there. For some offspring, time zones separate them from their loved ones and checking up on mom means hoping that a friend or a distant relative can stop in every once in a while.
Making a Move
Moving to a new location can mean much resistance on the part of mom. You dare not force the move and have the moving services pull up without her knowledge. Instead, you need to entreat your mother and review her options.
By selling the home, those funds can be used to place her in senior housing. Such housing can be like living in an apartment, with a caretaker on the premises to ensure that mom is safe. If she ends up needing more advanced care, many senior living facilities have nursing facilities, including end-of-life care.
Taking your mother to visit nearby facilities can help her see first hand what they’re about. It also helps if she has a friend or two that live there, giving her the social outlet she craves.