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May 21: When Senior is Senior

Updated: May 25, 2020

Our parents and/or grandparents have seen a lot of things, been a lot of places, and taught us a lot of things. They hold a very special place in our hearts and are due our respect in all things. Senior citizens are living longer today than ever, and the idea of "home" may change from an independent place to a shared home with family, friends or strangers. "Aging in place" has become a buzz word for what many people have been doing all along.

If you have a senior planning to live with you, a personal space must be carved out. Some families are fortunate enough to live in a home - or can renovate a home - to include an "in-law apartment" or something like it. This space usually includes a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen or kitchenette and a small gathering space. Many seniors enjoy being close to family but still separate when they want quiet time or time to entertain guests.

Keep in mind that the need to move in with family make have been created by a stressful event like a medical emergency, financial need or loss of a spouse. This in itself is very stressful so major decisions about living space don't have to made immediately - changes can be implemented at a slower pace when your senior is ready to move forward.

If you don't have this option, you can still create a welcoming, comfortable space for your senior. Communication is key - find out what your senior wants, and what your home can accommodate. Factor in any physical needs - like steps, proximity to a bathroom, windows for fresh air and sunshine, and storage space. A place to walk or exercise (or proximity to a gym or pool) and garden - if you have a gardener! - is important as well.

When a senior downsizes to move into a smaller space, it can be upsetting to get rid of so many possessions in a short period of time. Be patient and don't push. Find space within your home to store some "must-have" possessions that may not be used on a daily basis - like your attic or basement. If they're not ready to let go of major items, you may need to rent a storage unit and let them go thru it slowly. Let your senior know how many boxes that space can hold, and then help them pack what they're keeping, and get rid of the rest. They may want to offer some things to other family members first, so help coordinate this for them.

Their rooms should contain a comfortable bed - the kind that raises and lowers your head and feet is a treat! - dresser, night stand, lamps, lights, shelves and a closet. Private and secure space to store medical supplies and medicines is a must. You may need extra room for a wheelchair or walker and make sure there are no rugs that can cause tripping.They may bring their own furniture or you furnish the room - with their wants and needs in mind. Their personal possessions like favorite artwork, family photos and a blanket or throw finishes off the space and makes it feel like home.

Ability to see friends, attend church, grocery shop, etc. is just as important now. Help them to stay connected. All of this holds true if your senior will live in an assisted living facility as well. Their room is their "home" and it should be filled with the things they love that make them feel comfortable.

Take Away: "Multi-generational living" (yes, another buzz phrase) is a win-win for everyone involved when love and respect is present. Enjoy your senior, learn from them, and teach the younger generations the value of these very special people in their lives. One day, you will be their senior! Tomorrow we will look at those special storage challenges...!

About the Author: L. Sidney Irving is the owner of Sidco Properties, a real estate company dedicated to educating and assisting those that want to buy or sell a home, Sidney loves to organize herself and those around her because she believes that an organized space brings peace and fosters creativity. May the power of organization be with you!

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