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  • Writer's pictureSimon Wendt

Helping loved ones move house when they need to but don't want to

It's not the ideal situation and not one we like to plan for, however it is a common occurrence that the need to move house arises when people are unable to continue to live at home due to illness, injury or old age. It is usually up to the family to make arrangements for a loved one to move into more suitable accommodation and it should not be left too long.

This situation can understandably cause resistance to the inevitable change, anxiety for all involved, and sometimes disputes between family members. How the situation is managed will have a bearing on how palatable an unplanned move is for the family.

Communicate: It is crucial to communicate openly with your loved one and also the other family members who are responsible for the move, the 'need' to get this done for their own good. You must convey your understanding of their attachment to their home, their independence and their way of life.

Try to see the situation through the lens of the person who has to move and understand their frustrations in their difficult time. The automatic response for many people is resistance and you can expect some push back ranging from attempts to slow the process down and avoiding conversations to outright defiance. A compassionate attitude that has the persons best interest in mind will help the person make the decision for themselves. It is helpful if all family members involved are on the same page so this may mean a family meeting separate to your loved one to determine a course of action that will benefit them the most.

Remember the reasons behind their need to move: In many circumstances people require professional care and continuing to live in their own home can be dangerous. Dangers ranging from falling down stairs, burning the house down using gas stoves to overdosing or under-dosing medications are very real and sadly happen to people all too often if the move is left too long. A fall can lead to a fracture which for the elderly can be crippling or life threatening. And with no one to call out to for help, it could be a frightening situation to experience. Specialised care may be needed to improve mobility, avoid risk and ensure a safe future. For other people it may simply be a matter of avoiding the headaches of maintaining a large property.

Get professionals in to help: Engage the services of a health care professional to make a professional decision which may include keeping the loved one in their home. Nursing services are available from full time live-in care to daily visits ensuring your loved one is able to do the things they need to continue living at home. You may also wish to consider becoming their carer and either moving in with them or purpose building accommodation at your own home to allow them to live with you in your home. In some circumstances where health is good, having outside help to carry out gardening, cleaning etcetera may be all that is required.

Assessing your loved ones options with regard to their home: If a move is inevitable then consider the options for your loved ones property. This will usually be to sell or lease out the property. Most often selling the property is the better option in order to raise funds for the next stage of life and their destination. This will require an investigation of the available options of assisted living from retirement homes to aged care and nursing homes. Many residences offer different areas of their facilities to suit each persons stage of life and all their future needs can be accommodated.

Whilst the notion of needing care may be foreign to your previously independent loved one, most people find that after they move, they actually enjoy and prefer the benefits to their previous way of life. The often enjoy the care, the staff, the social aspects, activities and the streamlined way of living that allows them more independence to function in the way that they want to. Pay a visit to some of the homes to see what they offer and tour their facilities. You may be pleasantly surprised.

An enhancement to their life: If handled well, your loved one will see the move as an enhancement to their future. It is often difficult for people to let go of their home and possessions as they are fundamentally tied in to their sense of identity and their life story. They may have built the home themselves, raised a family there, and have a lifetime of fond memories they do not want to let go. It can be helpful to remind them that no matter what happens next, a move away from their home does not negate their experiences there. Their past is still a part of their life and the things they hold most dear are actually extraneous to the dwelling itself. They take with them their belongings, their memories, their families and themselves. Offer to create a photo album with keepsakes that will allow them to remember their home and retain their memories. There is the right property for the right stage and as humans go through life, our needs change and so does our home.

Deciding to sell the home: If selling is the best option and everyone is on board with the decision then a good estate agent will be needed to provide advice on how to prepare the home for sale including repairs, maintenance and presentation. Here is a handy guide. A good agent will also have the right contacts that can make arrangements for the preparation and get the jobs done that will be needed to obtain the best possible price. Your loved one may not like the way the agent suggests to present the home as it may be at odds with their familiarity and preferences however the agent will have their best interests in mind and is only trying to obtain the best result. In many circumstances, no special preparation is needed to obtain a good result and a good result will allow them a better way of life and the financial security that will be their safety net in the future.

For all real estate related information or advice, contact the author Simon Wendt, Licensed Estate Agent at Hockingstuart Mentone on 0407 040 706.

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