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Future-proofing and how to avoid becoming over- dependent

(152 Posts)
Cabbie21 Tue 14-Nov-23 08:58:29

My parents were very independent but in their final years, looking back, I now see they would probably have appreciated more support from me, as they did become very dependent on their neighbours. I lived an hour and a half away and worked full time so I saw them roughly every three weeks, alternating with other family members.
My husband died six months ago, and currently I am restricted by an injury, so I am really grateful for the support my family can give me. They are fairly local to me, but have busy lives with work and families. I will in due course be more independent but it has made me think hard about the future.
We moved a few years ago into a small market town, on a bus route, with doctors, shops etc handy, already future proofing our lives. But now the garden is too much. If I am going to move, I should probably do so in a couple of years’ time whilst I can still cope with the upheaval. But where? And then what?

When I read about others who are tied into caring for their elderly parents, I would not want to put my children into that position, but I hope to be near enough to make it easy for them to visit me. One of them is likely to move away in maybe 3-4 years’ time.
So I am not looking for immediate personal advice, but to open a discussion on how others see the future, when you need more help, maybe lose independence but want not to burden your family. What plans have you made? How can we keep our independence, when we become less able to manage, when we need more support? Have you moved nearer to family? Could you ever live with them? What has worked for you?

Marydoll Tue 14-Nov-23 09:12:30

When I retired on ill health, we decided to future proof our present home, so that if needed I could live downstairs and maintain my independence.
It was expensive, but I love my present home and my family all live nearby.

My experience of caring for extremely demanding elderly parents on a daily basis, working full time with three children to care for and studying for additional qualifications made me resolve never to be a demanding parent, when the time came.

My children are very loving, caring and supportive, but they are entitled to live their own lives and I intend to maintain my independence for as long as I can.

karmalady Tue 14-Nov-23 09:28:41

You are being very realistic Cabbie as well as pro-active, that is a good thing, so many have their heads in the sand especially if they are still two but we all get old and with that comes frailty

I cannot yet speak from personal experience apart from being alone now and I do still have health and strength. An hour away from one dd near Frome and 2 hours away from my other dd in s wales. Both DDs are very close and both keen and competative in the same active sports. I can see frome dd and her husband moving to s wales in maybe 6-7 years and I will most definitely follow them. My roots are in wales

I will have to make big decisions then, would never impose myself upon them but an annexe would not be out of the question, it would need its own front door. Right now, I live my life in hops, not thinking too far ahead, I am 75 as anything could change. I am safeguarding my future by having savings and a poa.

A retirement apartment would be a possibility, a friend has paid a deposit on one, her management fees will be £6000 and she is hale and hearty, she is also 75.

I don`t have a cleaner or gardener but that would be the first step for me

Calendargirl Tue 14-Nov-23 09:35:18

We live in a bungalow, and last year had the bathroom altered into a shower room, more accessible shower, high seat loo etc.

When the garden gets too much, will have to employ a gardener.

DD lives in Oz, so will never get visits or support from her, not that we expect it. DS lives 10 minutes walk away, but has his own busy life with his family, work, etc. I know he loves us, but that love won’t extend to any sort of caring, and you can’t expect it. Our adult children have their own lives, and elderly parents can be a burden.

I hope, with help from each other, DH and I can manage, as we love where we are, but can foresee a time when maybe a care home will be where we end up. The thought saddens and worries me, but if we get to that stage…..

Granniesunite Tue 14-Nov-23 09:40:00

We moved ten tears ago from our large family home as it was too big to manage five bedrooms and a large garden. My husband’s behaviour was strange his moods his sense of direction and ability to focus and retain new information concerned me and I “encouraged”him to accept this new change. He was eventually diagnosed with Alzhimers.

We moved to a much smaller house, easy to maintain garden and on a bus route near shops doctor church etc. I love it.

Our children live not too far away and visit us regularly and we have fun when they visit but I manage my husbands illness with help from support workers who are marvellous.

I shop online and drive myself everywhere but I walk lots too as I’m determined to keep myself as fit as I can to allow my children their own lives as they have stressful and difficult jobs.

I have instructed my family that if I fall ill and can’t look after myself me they choose a good home for me.

Thy all share P.O. A. for me.

Witzend Tue 14-Nov-23 09:53:28

Our house and garden are not really too big or unmanageable for us at the moment, but I’d certainly think of moving if and when I’m left on my own. But where to? A smaller house anywhere around here wouldn’t be much cheaper - and many are at least pre WW2 with fairly large gardens.

And the vast majority of flats are relatively small 2 bed newbuilds, with very high monthly maintenance and ground rent charges.

Dds’ general area is not much cheaper, but that’d be a possibility. However I’d never want to be dependent on them for care - I hope there’ll be enough cash to pay for it, if needed.

Moving in with either of them would be out of the question - having had a relative with dementia living with us, there’s no way I’d put them through that. And TBH increasingly I like my own space, and P&Q.

I would fervently hope to avoid a care home - I hate the thought of their inheritance going on care home fees - but if that were eventually the only option, it’d be better than being a worry and a burden to dds. I know they’d protest that I wouldn’t be a burden, but I would be, all the same.

Witzend Tue 14-Nov-23 09:55:54

Just to add, our wishes re any ‘striving to keep alive’ in the event that dh and I become unable to both care for ourselves and speak for ourselves, have been made crystal clear in our Health and Welfare Powers of Attorney. (Attorneys will be dds.)

crazyH Tue 14-Nov-23 10:09:53

I live alone in a 4bed house with a small garden. No intention of downsizing further. Moved here from a very large house with a large garden. I love my compact house and I love where I live and if at some point, I couldn’t climb the stairs, I would have a stairlift installed. So far, so good. Children live in the same area, but I do not expect them to care for me. My daughter isn’t the ‘Nursing’ type, anyway. I have savings which I will use to pay for help. I do have a cleaning lady once a fortnight, but will probably need her more as I get older.

Bella23 Tue 14-Nov-23 10:24:15

To remain healthy and live where we are for as long as possible. We acknowledge this might not suit us later and will move into a town flat or eventually a Carehome.
After doing long distance over 250 miles care for both mothers, we do not wish our children to do the same for us.
One DD lives at the other end of the country the other 4 hours from us and we all know it will be difficult for DD to drive that far in the future, I don't now. One would be a halfway house to get to the other. Neither are on easy Train routes either from where we live.
Both have invited us to go and live near them but neither of us relishes having to start again in our late 70's in an unknown area, putting increasing pressure on DD's when they will have teenage children.
We will have lived our later lives as we want to, they need to live theirs.
This will all have to be reassessed when one of us is left on our own.

fancythat Tue 14-Nov-23 10:41:09

I am not there yet in terms of needing anything.
The house itself is suitable up to the end.

After having thought about older age the last few months, I have decided to let sleeping dogs lie for a few years.

At that further point, things can change, for us and for children.
So I will make further decisions a few years further on.

Sparklefizz Tue 14-Nov-23 10:46:53

I live alone in a 4 bed house where I've lived for 26 years since I had teenagers at home. I've thought about downsizing but I'm juggling 12 different health conditions including longterm M.E. and Fibromyalgia, and don't think I have the energy and stamina to cope with the upheaval.

On Rightmove you can do a calculation to find out the costs of moving, and I was horrified that it would cost me about £25,000 in Stamp Duty, fees, etc which is, of course "dead money", so I'd rather pay for a cleaner once a fortnight plus a gardener for my small plot and stay here.

I don't sleep well and flats can be noisy plus I love having a garden and don't think I'd be happy without one. Also retirement apartments don't sell well. I have 2 friends who had to continue paying the high maintenance fees for over a year because their parents' apartments didn't sell quickly.

Sparklefizz Tue 14-Nov-23 10:48:23

PS. I already have a walk in shower and a downstairs loo. If I couldn't manage the stairs, I'd have a stairlift put in. My staircase is straight so it wouldn't be hard to fit one.

V3ra Tue 14-Nov-23 10:50:27

We're really impressed with the set-up where my Dad (92) is living in an extra-care apartment.
There is as much or as little care as he needs.
When he first moved here five years ago he was independent, had his car, took himself out and about.
Now he has vascular dementia, his car has gone and he has a lot of support from the in-house care team: laundry, meals, cleaning, taking to appointments if I'm not free.
They will do personal care but he's self-caring for now, they just get clean clothes out for him as he wouldn't bother!
He goes to a private daycare centre four days a week which he refers to as "going to work."
He has lots of company and good food.

We're buying the apartment below his as an investment and for future-proofing.
We will rent it out for now, and it'll be there to move into when we need it or choose to.
We both know and agree that we wouldn't want the bother of maintaining our current house and garden as we get older, especially when there's only one of us left.

DamaskRose Tue 14-Nov-23 11:05:40

We downsized seven years ago, when I was 62 and DH was 68, from 5 bedrooms and a large garden to 3 bedrooms and a small garden. DD lives a 5 minute drive away and DS 4 hours drive away. We have future proofed our house as much as possible and it is quite a relief to know that we could live here, on the ground floor for as long as it takes! When/if we can’t mange the cleaning/gardening we will get a cleaner/gardener, and have Tesco deliveries, and in all of that we are fortunate.

Elusivebutterfly Tue 14-Nov-23 11:16:54

I moved a few years ago to a slightly smaller house, in better condition and nearer a High Street. It has a downstairs loo and if I could not manage the stairs, the utility room with plumbing could become a shower room and the front room could be a bedroom with the kitchen/diner becoming the living room.

If it got to the stage I could not manage the house or the walk to the shops and bus stop, there are flats on and near the main road which I could move to and this would release funds for any help needed at home.

I thought of all this before I bought this house.

karmalady Tue 14-Nov-23 11:18:45

My neighbour, upright and active, in a similar house to me 4 bed new build and medium garden. We always said that we could both get a stair lift if needed. His dd lives a 5 hour drive away. Then he had the stroke and is now paralised completely down one side. He had 2 carers 4 times daily and his dd came to stay, leaving her own family

It took a few months for my neighbour to realise that he is being utterly selfish and just a few weeks ago he agreed to go into a care-home, still 5 hours away from dd but his best friend lives locally so he is staying local

A 4 bed cosy house and potential stair lift is not enough to raise the burden from AC. He could never have used a stairlift, it took 2 strong men to lift him, dress him etc. It has certainly changed my rosy view of managing in a house by myself when in my 80s and future-proofing later in my life will mean a whole new concept

Nannarose Tue 14-Nov-23 11:34:02

Well done Cabbie. We built our own house and 'future proofed' it. But that means general accessibility, ease of maintenance etc.
I am prepared (and have budgeted as far as possible) for a cleaner & gardener in the future. I am also aware that I may have to budget for taxis (unless our bus route is re-instated)

I think the 'big question' is really about personal care as described by karmalady. It may be easier for carers to manage in a future-proofed house, but in the end, if you can't manage, that will be the sticking point.

So you could begin to look at the kind of retirement complexes that have the option of personal care built in. I think it a very individual decision.

seadragon Tue 14-Nov-23 11:41:18

We moved to Orkney in 2005 and 'future proofed' by buying a house with wheelchair access and a wet room, all on the ground floor. At that time the front door opened directly onto a quiet lane of about 12 houses. Now the lane is no longer quiet with vehicles some of them massive, whizzing up and down doing at least 30 miles an hour. We have had the flagstones in front of our house cracked and the last one completely shattered by heavy lorries. Dust accumulates on all. the surfaces, almost as soon as it is removed, from various building works in the lane. I am no housewife but the floors would need cleaning every day if I was house proud!! Our children were in 'the South' when we moved here and we were happy that they would not feel obliged to care for us should we become frail. However one has already moved here and the other is seriously considering it; largely because of the total collapse of the Health and Social Care system which they had been working in..... Now in our 70's, we are not yet at the stage of needing help day to day but it is a comfort to know that they both may be nearby....

Calendargirl Tue 14-Nov-23 11:41:48

karmalady is right.

We can have cleaners, gardeners, stairlifts, on line grocery deliveries, ready meals, taxis….but if we get so we need help for showering, toileting, getting in and out of bed etc, what then?

Carers coming in 4 times a day, for about half an hour at a time, no set times either, breakfast could be 7am or 11am depending on schedules? This is what a friend finds, caring for her 94 year old dad.

That is when, reluctantly, sometimes a care home is the last and only option.

annodomini Tue 14-Nov-23 11:44:57

I don't call it future-proofing because there's no guarantee at any stage. At 60 I moved from my 4-bed family house as my two sons had settled into jobs in the south. I lived happily in my 2-bed terraced house in a friendly community close to my old home and old friends. 22 years later, I listened to my sons who by then were well settled with families - my much-loved GC. Now I have a retirement flat, close to my DS1 and family and not far from DS2 and his family. I do miss my friends and neighbours, but I've found my feet again and still have a good measure of independence as I have not given up driving. I see my DGC and my beautiful DGGD frequently. Future proof? Who can say? At this age, it's enough to live in the present.

keepcalmandcavachon Tue 14-Nov-23 12:41:13

A thought provoking thread. When I think of future-proofing, I think of my daughter. My darling dad lived with us for the last 11 years of his life and therefore my daughter didn't host many sleep overs and parties etc, days out were timed to his needs and she missed out on holidays and suchlike.
I'm very aware that she would do the same for me but if I can avoid it I will. I dont know if living with Grandad helped to make her so kind and thoughtful or if naturally being that way enabled her to cope so well. Try not to let her worry about me in any way and hope to continue that way.
We still miss him and wish I was still caring for him.

Marydoll Tue 14-Nov-23 12:43:03

I do call it future proofing. When I became ill, I knew my conditions were progressive and life would become more problematic.
Therefore, I did it all, while I was reasonably well, because I knew the upheaval that would ensue. I couldnt have faced it now.
It has made life so much easier for me.

pascal30 Tue 14-Nov-23 13:24:04

seadragon

We moved to Orkney in 2005 and 'future proofed' by buying a house with wheelchair access and a wet room, all on the ground floor. At that time the front door opened directly onto a quiet lane of about 12 houses. Now the lane is no longer quiet with vehicles some of them massive, whizzing up and down doing at least 30 miles an hour. We have had the flagstones in front of our house cracked and the last one completely shattered by heavy lorries. Dust accumulates on all. the surfaces, almost as soon as it is removed, from various building works in the lane. I am no housewife but the floors would need cleaning every day if I was house proud!! Our children were in 'the South' when we moved here and we were happy that they would not feel obliged to care for us should we become frail. However one has already moved here and the other is seriously considering it; largely because of the total collapse of the Health and Social Care system which they had been working in..... Now in our 70's, we are not yet at the stage of needing help day to day but it is a comfort to know that they both may be nearby....

Can you put massive rocks outside your house or are you straight onto the road...it sounds very unsafe

Cabbie21 Tue 14-Nov-23 13:59:33

Some really interesting and useful responses. Thank you.

We thought we were well prepared, with potential for using a downstairs room as a bedroom if need be. There is a downstairs loo and shower,( as well as a shower over the bath upstairs), but when DH was ill and frail, he could not use the downstairs one. It has a concertina door, no room for me to help without getting wet, no room for his stool. There was also a ledge which he struggled with, so we realised we were not as prepared as we might be. It makes you think.
Now I have injured my hand and live alone, I realise just how challenging even simple things can be, temporarily.
I will certainly be prepared to go into a care home eventually, hopefully many years away, but it is the stage previous to that which I am thinking about. Mum and Dad looked after each other. Before my Dad died, Mum told me she wanted to go into a Home if he died first. She had six good months there, a new lease of life in fact, no worries about being safe, no housework or shopping, new friends, entertainment. And a relief for me to know she was looked after.

eddiecat78 Tue 14-Nov-23 15:38:51

Sadly I suspect that what we think now, might not be what we think when it comes to the crunch. MIL was adamant that if she ever needed personal care she would go into a home and said there was no way she wanted her children to care for her. However, when the time came she absolutely refused to leave her home and made it clear that she only wanted her daughters looking after her . Her comment was that this was how things were done in the past and that should continue.