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When your home becomes too much to manage

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Right now, I want a huge house. I want a huge house with a huge kitchen, a huge dining room, a huge living room, a huge bathroom, a huge bedroom, a huge closet, huge patio. I want a huge yard so I can have more than two dogs and they can run freely in our sprawling yard. Huge.

But what happens when I am 65 and thinking about retirement? Will I want to spend all of my retirement years cleaning that huge home? Will my husband want to keep up with that huge yard? When we are 80, will we be able to climb my huge, beautiful staircase to get to our huge, beautiful bedroom? It’s not likely.

At some point, I will have to consider what is practical for my husband and me and what options we have. My current clients are often concerned with whether or not they can stay in their homes. The answer to that question is, as you can imagine, very different for each person.

Is the home manageable? Is living on one floor possible? Are the upkeep and maintenance realistic? Are the expenses reasonable when compared to income? Is there a backup plan in place should a sudden change occur? What safety barriers currently exist? Can home modifications be made to create a safe living environment? Is the home conveniently located to destinations that are frequently traveled to? Can family and friends access the home easily? Are the neighbors supportive? Is anyone available to step in and take over if help is needed?

When I work with my clients, these are some of the questions that are considered as we determine together what is best for each of them. We may talk about some alternatives to living in the home, such as independent/retirement living, personal care homes/assisted living or even nursing homes. The positives and negatives of remaining in the home versus leaving the home for a more manageable living environment are discussed.

Once we reach a conclusion, we will discuss what options my clients have if they determine that they are looking for in a new home. For instance, some people are looking for a lot of square footage with a full kitchen, plenty of options for social activity, a place that is connected to continuing education and someone to be available for their spouse in the event that they should end up in the hospital. Others are looking for a small living space that is affordable, closely located to their family and for their cooking, cleaning and laundry to be handled. Others are looking for a place that guarantees a bed for them no matter what their health status may be, known as a continuum of care facility. Everyone is looking for something a little bit different and there are plenty of options to choose from.

Other clients determine that remaining in their home is their goal. In order to do this, we discuss any of the concerns they currently have and any concerns that may come up along the way. We start to piece together a plan involving people that are in their social support network to help them meet some basic needs. Once we’ve created this plan, we will fill in the gaps with outside, paid services.

We then organize some home modifications; I make safety recommendations and maybe even suggest they speak to their doctor about some durable medical equipment. Once the services are put in place, I will make home visits to ensure that everyone is safe and happy. I will meet my clients at their doctor’s appointments and make sure that they are asking the questions that need to be asked and getting the answers that they need.\

If someone has a hospital stay, I can meet them at the hospital to help them navigate through the health care maze and help them make informed decisions about what comes next. When a change in functioning occurs, the client, his spouse or family can call me to discuss what to do next.

Whatever my client chooses to do, I am there every step of the way to help educate and empower them. I want them to have the best quality of life and know about all of the options available to them so that they can make the best decision for their very unique situation.