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Old 02-16-2017, 01:10 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
23,592 posts, read 17,582,380 times
Reputation: 27682

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We are going through some upheaval in my family now regarding my 81 year old grandmother who is becoming increasingly frail with mobility issues. She lives in a smaller, tri-level home they had built in 1967. The laundry is in the basement, living room and kitchen are on the main level, and the only bathrooms are upstairs with the bedrooms. The master bathroom is extremely small and only has a shower stall (if someone was sitting on the toilet, there would not be enough room for someone to stand at the sink that is between the toilet and shower). It can't accommodate a walker or any sort of mobility equipment. She is using a shower chair because she's afraid she'll fall and had a handyman she knows rig up some rails in the shower. Other bathroom has a tub that is larger, but this tub has not been used in years, so no idea if it needs work, etc.

She has had knee issues for the past several years with increasing severity and went for an MRI last week. The follow up was not good - she has a stress fracture, the knee is "bone rubbing on bone," and there is severe arthritis and inflammation. The doctors gave her a cortisone shot, but do not think surgery would help with all the arthritis. It is wear and tear for someone of that age, but she is throwing a pity-party and acts like she's going to have her leg amputated. She has no significant health issues otherwise.

Needless to say, the layout of this home is not doable for someone who has a hard time getting around. The walker/cane has to go up the stairs. The hallways and rooms are small, so difficult to manipulate a walker. There is a rail, but the stairs could easily lead to a fall for someone not sure on their feet. My aunt and sometimes myself are doing the laundry for her, carrying it up both sets of stairs. She pays a lady to clean once a week and is not able to do much of her own housekeeping. She's becoming less willing/able to drive, so I'll pick up groceries and bring them over a couple times a week, as she only goes out on Friday to the beauty salon and Sunday to church, and has difficulty getting through the grocery store. Dad and I have been taking care of maintenance around the house - I did most of the yard work last summer.

The mobility issues are getting worse, she is requiring more care over the last few weeks, and her insistence on staying in the home is frustrating. She still sees herself as active and able, but she is clearly not able to do the things she once did. We've tried talking her into downsizing since my grandfather passed away in 2009 (she is notably more frail with less movement), but she is absolutely unwilling to even entertain the idea. She complains the house won't sell (needs cosmetic updates but is mostly fine), that she won't get enough money from the sale of the home to buy something else (not true, but the home would probably bring $100k-$120k, which could get a one level condo or maybe a ranch), any number of reasons. The basement is still packed with his stuff and she does not want it cleaned out. We've all resigned ourselves to the fact that it'll have to wait until she passes.

Aunt has a one level townhome that is much more open and easier to get around in, and is trying to get grandmother to move in. Grandmother will stay over there on weekends sometimes but not permanently. It's becoming increasingly burdensome on my aunt and me to constantly get the groceries, do the laundry, me to do the yard work, etc. - it's probably a five hour a week commitment for me and more for my aunt, and we aren't into mowing season yet! Grandmother is not making this easy or convenient.

Did you have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that you need to downsize? How did it go for you and your family?
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Old 02-16-2017, 01:39 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,606 posts, read 39,974,527 times
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We take on the task of helping rural seniors decide to stay, or leave. Many have built their own homes and farmsteads and want to stay.

Depends on support structure, desire (reasons) to stay, and the logistics of each choice (often the cost or location). We do a lot of remodeling / adding apartments / changing driveways, adding elevators and ramps...

I prefer to add extra living space and have them hire a caregiver (if that is reasonable for cost and health / agility).
Often we will add a ADA modular home to rural site and place it on a 'Caregiver' exemption (must be moved when no longer needed).


If the choice is to MOVE...
There are 'Senior Transition' services who are very good at determining what stays and what goes, and they will handle everything, including the move. They know how to discuss / help seniors who are 'attached' to their stuff.

It is not an ez task, make it as simple as possible on all. (sometimes that means waiting until senior leaves the home (one way or another)...)
Tri level homes are a big pain (and for that reason, often hard to resell)
@age 81 you may have 15 yrs ahead of you.
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Old 02-16-2017, 01:41 PM
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
28,502 posts, read 62,199,370 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serious Conversation View Post
...my 81 year old grandmother who is becoming increasingly frail with mobility issues.
She lives in a smaller, tri-level home they had built in 1967.
The laundry is in the basement...

Did you have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that you need to downsize?
How did it go for you and your family?
My folks shifted to a single level home when they were 60.
It was the perfect time and it worked well for them for quite a while.

Twenty years later, maybe 25, they should have shifted to a seniors building.
They blew it on this one.

Lesson? No one is exempt from the changes.
Deal with them on YOUR terms.
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Old 02-16-2017, 01:51 PM
 
Location: Knoxville, TN
1,251 posts, read 592,823 times
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My mother is 93. She just moved out of her home in October into a group living situation. She was able to stay in her home because someone was paid to clean, do laundry (in the basement) and grocery shop. Fortunately, the bedroom and bath were on the main level. My brother lives close enough that he was going by every Saturday to mow the yard, do repairs, etc. She had a friend who would pick her up to go to the nutrition center and other local events in town. 81 sounds so young. My mother was definitely not willing to move at that age. By 93, she no longer wanted to fix her own meals or deal with being in the house and would finally consider moving. We were lucky to find a wonderful situation for her.
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Old 02-16-2017, 01:52 PM
 
Location: Eastern Oregon
983 posts, read 762,107 times
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When we built our house, we were in our 50s. I've spent enough time on crutches (knee problems mostly) that I know how difficult stairs can be. Even for people who are *not* elderly. So - we built a one story house. The master bathroom has a walk in shower with rails. The toilet in that bathroom is a raised version - considered ADA accessible. It has rails also. The house probably wouldn't work well for someone in a wheelchair - doorways are not wide enough. But if one of us were in a wheelchair, we'd probably need to be in a rehab facility anyway. It does work for limited mobility, though. So that will delay the need to move.

We've also consistently worked on downsizing. Not allowing clutter to build up. So when the time comes that we do need to move, it will be easier.
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Old 02-16-2017, 01:56 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
23,592 posts, read 17,582,380 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabbythecat View Post
When we built our house, we were in our 50s. I've spent enough time on crutches (knee problems mostly) that I know how difficult stairs can be. Even for people who are *not* elderly. So - we built a one story house. The master bathroom has a walk in shower with rails. The toilet in that bathroom is a raised version - considered ADA accessible. It has rails also. The house probably wouldn't work well for someone in a wheelchair - doorways are not wide enough. But if one of us were in a wheelchair, we'd probably need to be in a rehab facility anyway. It does work for limited mobility, though. So that will delay the need to move.

We've also consistently worked on downsizing. Not allowing clutter to build up. So when the time comes that we do need to move, it will be easier.
Grandfather was a bit of a pack rat, but pretty well organized. The basement isn't hoarded, but is quite cluttered with much of his old stuff, and there are many things piled up in boxes that haven't been seen in at least a decade.

She's unwilling to part with any of this or even let us see what has value and could be kept and what needs to go.
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Old 02-16-2017, 02:06 PM
 
Location: Eastern Oregon
983 posts, read 762,107 times
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It's going to take time - your grandmother has many memories of life in her home. Can you and your family make yourselves less available to help her? Sure, she needs groceries - don't leave her to starve. But you can find yourself not able to drop everything and race over to do laundry, etc. At the same time, remind her of how nice it would be at your aunt's place - the good times, how comfortable it would be. And start taking "treasures" from the house over there - pictures, a favorite chair - so she will be comfortable when she spends weekends. Ease her into it. At the same time, when she is at your aunt's house, go visit her there. Help her have good times there, build new memories in that new environment.

And - downsizing will take time. As she gets comfortable in your aunts house, she may be willing to allow some stuff to get tossed. Perhaps if she realizes it is going to a good cause (a favorite charity?) that will help. I see this with my inlaws. I don't think there is an easy way to deal with it.

Last edited by Gabbythecat; 02-16-2017 at 02:16 PM..
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Old 02-16-2017, 04:04 PM
 
Location: Florida
5,257 posts, read 3,020,732 times
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I am 82 and my wife is 81. Back in 2000 we bought a one story condo townhouse, 2 br, 2 ba. We have not climbed stairs since. Two years ago we decided to return to Florida where we bought a condo apartment in a 55+ community that has about 9000 residents. We are on the ground floor, and the folks upstairs have an elevator. Once again we have 2 bedrooms and 2 baths.

We bought our condo furnished, although we did bring some furnishings with us from Arizona. We sold the excess and donated some other items. We bought it from an estate, the previous resident expired at age 102.

We have both had 2 knee replacements each plus other reminders of our age.
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Old 02-16-2017, 04:36 PM
 
8,977 posts, read 8,112,623 times
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My wife is 87 and I am 85, and in good health. We live in a 3,700 sq. ft 4 level luxury home, which includes 3 sets of stairs. However neither of us should ever climb stairs. Keeping it clean, is not something we enjoy anymore. Our home is across a county road, across the street from the best part of the city. So we had to make some adjustments.

We installed grab bars, in places like the tub and shower.

Installed 3 chair lifts one for each stairway. We easily move between floor now, in complete safety.

Hired a housekeeper to come in Monday Wednesday and Friday to clean starting 3 years ago. If for one reason or another, if we reach the point we need someone to provide transportation, our housekeeper will drive us anywhere we want to go in any weather in our Explorer 4X4. For groceries we have a large independent grocer here in our small town for perishables. Everything else we buy from Walmart On Line, and find we save about 40+% over buying local. We get it in 2 days from when we place the order. Needed new bagger blades for our mower, ordered them on line. Needed new chain saw blade to trim a couple of trees, ordered on line. Needed new front wheels for the mower which all owners find over time have problems, and got no flat wheels and tires on line and they are in transit at this time. Bought the snow blade for our mower on line. We have found we can get about anything we need on line, and can buy it a lot cheaper on line that in stores. Why spend 2 hours driving time, and have to possibly go to 6 or 8 stores to find exactly what you want for a cheaper price in a few minutes at most on line and have it delivered to your door.

We have 1 acre landscaped, and it is mostly trees, and lawn, so easy to keep up. We have a tractor mower, that mows the lawn, and most of the time we have some one do the actual mowing for us.

Our driveway is 75+ feet from our lane, which is 500 feet long. We have a blade on the tractor in the winter, so it is easy to get rid of the snow for both the yard, and for the lane. May run it myself, or the person that does the mowing in the summer clears the snow in an hour or less.

We own the home free and clear of loans. It has been appreciating at 10% to 12% a year in value so it is a lot better interest rate on our money, than we can get at the bank.

Our home is the only real contemporary home in out area with ceiling in the living room soaring to 25 feet with a window all and a fantastic view of the rocky mountains. Next door to the city, but on 5 total acres with 4 acres pasture, and a nice metal barn, with 2 stables attached to it. We have standing offers to buy it for appraised value less 6% (no commission to pay). As I was an investment real estate broker from 1972 till I finally retired, I do know how to do this, and if I am gone my was a real estate para legal, who ran the office and I handled our investment clients so she knows how to get it sold when we have buyers hoping we want to move. (We were both licensed brokers.)

When we get so we need some other living quarters in 5 to 10 years, we will sell the home and buy a duplex where we live in one side, and have someone living in the other unit to take care of any needs we have.

We could sell now, but the house is large enough we can have kids, and grandchildren with our great grand children come for visits for a few days and have room for them to stay so we can enjoy the company. And with 4 levels we can have different living zones so we don't fall all over each other.

The thing that is important, you adapt what you have to fill your needs, or you move out and find something more suitable. We have found with the stair lifts and safety adaptations we have made, that even younger families that want our home, are planning on keeping them. As one said, those chairlifts will be great when their elderly grandparents come to visit. Or if their son breaks a leg playing foot ball, etc. Also great to move heavy items between floors.
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:08 PM
 
5,429 posts, read 3,452,633 times
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I would tell your grandmother, in a nice and accommodating way but firmly, that expecting you and others to clean out the basement and storage areas not over time, but only upon her demise, is not a fair approach.

Be firm in saying that cleaning out needs to begin. Not later, but now. And explain that any other way is unfair.

Once you get the basement and storage cleaned out, you may proceed perhaps with your other goals that you wish for your grandmother.

Maybe you could hire some workers to help with the clean out of the basement and storage?
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