I have a friend in her mid-80s, *Darlene, who had reached a physical state where she felt that it was time to make the move to a step-free retirement facility. And she was on the verge of taking up rooms in a residence that looked to tick all the boxes. Until, at the 11th hour, she discovered that it had a somewhat controlling approach to simple things like measuring out a glass of wine for dinner.
So she bailed out. Her son – a lovely man living on coastal acreage – said “come and live with us.” But Darlene had always resolved that she would not share a home with her children, as she knew too well that however well intentioned and loving the invitation, an extra person in their home could – eventually – be one too many.
“OK,” that son said. “Then come and live in the studio instead.” But she knew that that was pretty run-down, and wasn’t too taken with the idea.
“Just come and have a look at it,” he said.
And when she did, he and his wife had fixed it up beautifully. It was cleaned and furnished, and cosy, and had a fire burning in the fireplace (it was winter at the time). A living room with kitchen in one corner, a bedroom, and a bathroom, and a lovely outdoor area with table and chairs and large sun umbrella. All on level ground, surrounded by trees, and on her son’s land, but out of sight of their house.
So, undeniably perfect as a starting point. And in the months that she has since lived there she has further transformed – and is continuing to work on turning – it into a home that she loves. We went and had lunch with her the other day, and heard about how she had also been making arrangements to suit her new lifestyle. So, she has her independence and a good connection with an Uber driver to take her where she wants to go locally, and is enjoying visits from her family and others, and is making trips to the city when she feels so inclined. She’s connected to the wider world through the internet; and closer to her home the family dog prefers to spend a lot of each day with her rather than being at his home alone. And she is keeping to her resolution to have her meals on her own rather than joining her family, who are confirmed vegans and teetotal.
Some of us can continue to live in the same home until the end, and just the other day we had a lunch with a friend whose 101-year-old mother is happily doing just that, so far. But for many of us, there does come a time when we have to make a move, whether it’s for something as simple as not being able to manage stairs in our beloved home, or something more complicated physically or mentally. Finding the next right move can be a challenge. And so it is a joy to see someone who’s been able to make one that is as good as Darlene’s new place in the sun.
*Names have been changed to protect the subject’s privacy.