In Anne’s words…
My parents are now 85 and nearly 80. Until two years ago, they lived 150 miles away and I’m the only close relative living in this country. All their friends are their age, so if there’s a crisis, they won’t be able to rush in with meals and make lots of visits.
I said that I’d like them to be closer to me, although I was always careful not to really push it because it had to be their decision. Deep down, they knew they ought to move closer to me. They decided to look at sheltered housing because then they could live independently but have some backup.
Sheltered housing – a difficult decision
They started looking, but not very hard. Then six years ago my father had a heart attack and I had to drop everything and rush over there, and that’s when they thought maybe we should look quite seriously. My father was keener than my mother. He does everything for them – she’s quite dependent on him and she can’t even work the answerphone – and he didn’t want her to be stranded and not able to cope. There was a lot of, ‘maybe we should… No, we’ll stay here.’ I also got a lot of grief about children who had come to live near their parents.
Funnily enough, it was Mum who spotted the advertisement. It was a new estate of sheltered housing, on the same site as a care home in a town not far from here. They still kept changing their minds and it was on and off for a long time. They finally moved two years ago.
Now they live in a cottage with a small garden on a gated community where they can be completely independent when they want to be, but they have a panic button if they need it.
Dad is very happy there as he’s near me and that’s all that matters to him. My mother found it hard to adjust to being in a smaller house. She is also much more sociable and she misses her friends. Some have visited, but it’s a long way to come for them and they’re not keen on doing the drive.
There are lots of plus points. They like being near me. They love the fact that if something goes wrong, it gets fixed quickly and easily.
My mother says it’s much harder to make new friends at their age. There are social things they can do on the site, but they don’t feel they have a lot in common with the other residents.
But there are lots of plus points. They like being near me. They love the fact that if something goes wrong, it gets fixed quickly and easily. For example, they jammed the waste disposal with a spoon, picked up the phone and the handyman came and dealt with it! It’s worth a lot to have peace of mind and not to have the worry. If there is a crisis, somebody there will know what to do.
In an ideal world, they should have moved to a house near me 10 years ago, because it would have been easier to settle and meet new people. But we all tend to think, ‘Oh, I’m fine. That can wait.’ And then suddenly you have to do it.”
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Before you choose accommodation in sheltered housing, think through the practicalities, costs and legal issues.