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Elderly parents

Downsizing but where?

10 replies

3summer · 13/09/2023 22:48

Bit of background. My mum and step dad are in their 60’s. My step dad has Parkinson’s, diagnosed in 2015. He is still able to live a relatively normal life just about, with a lot of support from my mum - who is his emotional and increasingly physical carer. He has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. We are waiting to see if it’s spread. My mum has recently diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis and had breast cancer in 2020. All of this has taken its toll on my mum who despite her positivity I can see is at risk at getting lost as she is a constant emotional crutch for my step dad. They live in a massive house in the country side. The amount of space is great for my step dad but the upkeep of the house is just too much for my mum as it has many outbuildings etc and although I help of course, the responsibility is ultimately falling on her shoulders. It’s also in a very isolated area so will be difficult for carers to get to when needed/if ever they weren’t able to use a car.
With my step dads latest cancer diagnosis my mum has realised how important it is to not leave downsizing until it’s ‘too late’ (something we’ve just been through with her mum and dad).
My mum has said they're considering moving to retirement flats as she thinks it would give her more freedom as there’d be plenty of people around to keep an eye out/help my step dad if she needed to go out somewhere.
I’ve said I’m a bit concerned that it’s too big a downsize as they’re only in their 60’s and as sad as it is to think about, if my step dad were to get worse and require full time care in a care home then my mum would be in retirement flats with people much older than herself for a long time - I’m worried this will prematurely age her (mentally). Plus realistically I don’t think you can rely on people being around in communal areas to keep an eye out for my step dad. I’m sure there’s a nice community at these places but not enough to acts as a safety net.
She is the sort of person who is positive, has a zest for life and enjoys everything but I can see this being eroded as my step dads Parkinson’s worsens.
I feel that a move to a smaller estate style house in her local town (where I live) would be a good balance as there’d be easy access for carers, good transport links with busses etc and they’d still be able to have the family round easily if they wanted (that’s probably more of a selfish reason from me). They would have the funds from their house sale to adapt the house to exactly how they wanted.
I’m constantly worried about my mum just getting lost in the misery that is Parkinson’s. I love my step dad but my priority is my mum. He has changed so much as a person it’s just so hard for her but she will never allow herself to think like that. I want her to still have fun and laughs as she’s only in her 60’s. I try to take her out places and on mini breaks whilst my step dad is still ok to be on his own but I can tell she feels guilty.
I believe their next house should be chosen to accommodate my step dads needs but ultimately be a place for her as she could end up being on her own there.
I would really appreciate anyone’s thoughts on this.

OP posts:
SloppyJays · 13/09/2023 22:56

It sounds like she is saying she wants to live where there are lots of other people so she isn’t just alone in dealing with her DH, his illnesses, treatments and her own conditions. Regardless of what you feel is best, she has to decide what she feels is right for them. Caring for someone is very difficult, it’s doubly difficult with rheumatoid arthritis. Retirement flats are usually from 50+ ages, they are not just full of old people and there is often a good community feel to them, someone to chat and have coffee with or pick up some milk for you whilst they’re out.
It has to be their decision and you shouldn’t try to influence them too much.

3summer · 13/09/2023 23:01

Absolutely. I’m just worried she’ll make a decision on what’s best for my step dad not necessarily what’s best for her as she will always put his needs before hers. I feel like I have to advocate for her.
I have had rheumatoid arthritis for 22 years so I have an understating of the disease.
My bio Dad has vascular dementia and hydrocephalus so I have been through the care system somewhat with him. Whilst retirement flats are for 50+, realistically the majority of people living in the complexes near us are late 70’s onwards.

OP posts:
3summer · 13/09/2023 23:05

It’s good to know that there is a community vibe at the retirement flats though as she is a very community minded person and really enjoys volunteering and helping within their little village.

OP posts:
3summer · 13/09/2023 23:06

I think a huge part of me is just so gutted for them that it’s come to this. They should be living a wonderful retirement enjoying themselves. I just feel so sad for them.

OP posts:
PermanentTemporary · 13/09/2023 23:12

I personally would tend to swerve retirement flats because of the service charges, but a small house with stairs could in fact be quite difficult in the future if your SD ever needed a wheelchair for example.

My choice would be a 'normal' ground floor flat, ideally with 3 bedrooms and a bathroom big enough to turn into a wet room, in a very central location of a town they like. They can be a bit like hen's teeth but they've got time to look. It has to be said that this would be my choice! Not right for everyone.

I visited a very elderly person in a really nice sheltered housing estate today but the corridors are so skimpy that he has to pull his wheeled walker backwards from the front door as there's no space to turn it around.

KCandtheSunlightBand · 13/09/2023 23:24

I would stay away from retirement flats as the costs involved (service charge and care)are huge and they take an age to buy and sell. If purchased when new they often have a very poor resale value. There are a couple of developments in my local area where resale prices have almost halved, and there are always at least a third of the flats empty at any one time.
Would a bungalow work? Easy access, no stairs to contend with, often older demographic. Might be in need of some modernisation, but always retain their value.
I am not much younger than your Mum and I really wouldn’t want to be in a retirement place, as although they are for 55+ in reality they are full of 80+. I’m not being ageist, I have a lot of experience, with both my parents living in this type of development. Often night time carers come in from 6 pm to put people to bed. My Mum is considered quite a rebel for not being in bed before 10!

Mosaic123 · 14/09/2023 03:50

I agree with a bungalow although a non retirement flat in a perfect location with balcony wouid probably be best if she is on her own.

I think she might be overly optimistic about other residents keeping an eye out for your step dad too.

Either in a retirement scheme or a normal area.

exexpat · 14/09/2023 15:44

The other residents in retirement flats would probably have their own health issues to deal with and are unlikely to be willing or able to keep an eye on your stepdad.

I wonder if she/they are still resisting the idea that he will need paid carers at some point, if only to give her some respite? The reality is that at some point, if she is caring for him at home, there will come a time when he can't be safely left alone and she will need to pay for care.

Retirement flats or a sheltered housing would probably have more social interaction than a normal block of flats, but as other posters have pointed out, the average age will probably be much older, and there are issues with service charges and resale values.

A better option might be to try and find a normal flat in an area popular with retired people, or a bungalow. My widowed MiL moved to a cul-de-sac of bunglows after FiL died, and it was the perfect move for her: lots of other residents around her age, but also a few younger ones, with a real sense of community and people helping each other out.

SiouxsieSiouxStiletto · 16/09/2023 08:48

My DP took a flat in a non-profit retirement complex and it was absolutely the best thing they could have done. Carers are available, should you require one and there is a restaurant, entertainment and clubs. My DPs were becoming increasingly isolated as my DF's health deteriorated.

It's a fallacy that there are only really old people in there. Some in my DM's complex still go to work but have a Partner who needs care and the adaptations that come with a retirement flat.

I agree that your DM is saying that she wants the community around her.

Beautifulsunflowers · 16/09/2023 08:55

If they have funds buy a bungalow near you. Good family support and no having to navigate stairs.
They can be easily adapted to accommodate future needs and your step dad wouid be able to stay at home rather than having to go into a care home if his disease progresses.
A bungalow seems like the ideal solution in that it would also suit your mum and feel like a nice home with a garden which she may not get with a flat.

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