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Future-proofing and how to avoid becoming over- dependent

(153 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?

fancythat Wed 22-Nov-23 20:36:13

Who knows when worse health will hit.

Casdon Wed 22-Nov-23 20:45:14

M0nica

Casdon that is why I said that life doesn't necessarily get small.

It does for some but ti is not inevitable. As I always say, people's experience and life varies and the results are variable to.

I’m not convinced, because I think as more and more of your longstanding friends die before you, people who knew you when you were young together, you keenly feel your isolation and although you have different social contacts and the younger members of your family, your world is smaller. It’s the rare exception I’d guess who still has friends from their youth by the time they are in their mid nineties. We all rely on our friends, the relationship with them helps us navigate through difficult times in our lives, and I know my parents miss theirs greatly. We’ll have to agree to differ.
I can see the benefits in the type of apartment LauraNorrder has gone for, it’s not for everybody but it does have many advantages.

Newquay Wed 22-Nov-23 23:18:31

My dear sister always says “prepare for the worst and hope for the best”!
It’s naïve not to give some thought to future needs IMHO

V3ra Thu 23-Nov-23 08:03:49

All the while our little flat will be warm, secure and well looked after.
I don’t think my world is going to get smaller any time soon.

Two ladies where my Dad lives share a flat, and spend half the year off on cruises.
They like to know their property is being looked after while they're out of the country 🚢

Nannarose Thu 23-Nov-23 08:37:02

I have found this very interesting - a really welcome discussion on being thoughtful for the future.

Margiknot - I suggest 2 avenues to consider:
You don't say what your AC's disability is - but there is probably a charity / campaigning organisation that is used to answering these questions.
You can approach your local housing authority / local council. Although most people think of them as allocating social housing, they are also there to advise on housing issues, with particular responsibility for people with disabilities. They will have information about various housing projects and enterprises that may well suit you.
I have known families such as yours who were helped to find accommodation.

Iam64 Thu 23-Nov-23 08:42:36

We looked over 4 years for the perfect Edwardian bungalow. We found a few but they were either surrounded by endless new builds so lacking privacy, or remote from shops, public transport, doctors etc, in fact, the basic necessities as we age. We decided to extend our kitchen and transform the garage into a utility plus shower and toilet.
I was naive in believing my seemingly fit, happy husband would outlive me. 13 months on from his death, I’m still adjusting to living in our 4 bed family home alone. I’m very fortunate in being able to afford the gardener who mows the lawns. I can heat the house and run my car. The bus stop is outside my garden, decent butcher and small supermarket nearby.
I’m now relieved we decided to stay here, the children grew up here. We did ‘baby Thursday’ for 6 happy years as our adult children started their own families. Our grandchildren associate this house with happy times with grandad.
Counting blessings

Witzend Thu 23-Nov-23 08:59:09

biglouis

I was only talking about this last night with a friend. We both had parents who died around 2000 so are glad we "dodged a bullet" in looking aftert them. Me as the divorced childfree daughter and my friend as a childfree gay male. Most of the caring fell on my sister who was the "golden child! when we were younger. It was not by accident that I moved away to go to uni and never returned to the city of my birth.

I know that I would rather die than lose my independence and go into a care home. When the time comes I have enough barbiturates to end it peacefully in my own way.

The trouble with that plan, biglouis, is that if - God forbid - you ever succumb to dementia, not only will you very likely fail to understand that there’s anything wrong with you, but you will almost certainly have forgotten a) that stash of tablets, and b) that you ever intended any such thing.

After her elder sister developed Alzheimer’s, my mother frequently said she’d ‘take an overdose if I ever get like that’.

Roll on several years and she had apparently accepted it when the GP told her she had Alzheimer’s - but had completely forgotten by the time she got home maybe 15 minutes later, and would angrily deny it if we ever tried to remind her. So we soon stopped.

It wasn’t ‘denial’ - she simply could not remember - at any given moment - that she could never remember anything.

Germanshepherdsmum Thu 23-Nov-23 09:05:27

The solution is not to wait too long. My fear is a sudden catastrophic stroke which would rob me of the power to act. My husband knows I would not want treatment. My son would, I fear, keep me lingering rather than allow me to die, unless his wife talked him round.

DaisyAnneReturns Thu 23-Nov-23 09:21:27

I have moved in the last few years and have watched friends move and contemplate moving. My intention was to make myself as independent as possible. This is what I have discovered.

1. Be prepared that there may be one more move after your period of living as independently as you can.

2. Stay or move to where your friendship group/s are. This is obviously easier if you family are near but at this stage friends will help you be independent rather than dependent.

3. Location, location, location. Your needs are different and changing. Are there shops for basics near by? Going out to shop keeps you active. Where is your surgery going to be? Is there somewhere you can meet friends for coffee outside your homes? Are any groups you belong to easily accessible. Be prepared to sacrifice space, garden or have the need to do some work to the property in order to be in the right location. Getting out and meeting people maintains independence as does feeling part of a community.

4. You may well feel you don't need it, but is there a care call system in the property? If not include the cost of having one.

5. Factor in the cost of "services" including:
Care system
Gardening
Cleaning
Window cleaning
Travel costs (local)
Repairs and maintenance

6. Once moved, get to know your neighbours. They will be an enormous source of information. Some may become friends but good neighbours fulfill a different role as you do for them. Keeping in touch with what's going on around you keeps you independent.

7. Assess the property for any trip and fall hazards and remove them. Technology can be your independence tool. For example, make sure you have as many electric sockets as possible so ther are no trailing wires. Have any that can be moved to a better height moved up and add a remote control or smart sockets to those that can't be. Trips and falls can end your independence or greatly curtail it.

I'll come back if I think of more grin

DaisyAnneReturns Thu 23-Nov-23 09:24:11

have the need add the need

Cabbie21 Thu 23-Nov-23 10:50:16

I am so glad I started this thread. So many interesting - and varied- responses.
I still have a lot of DH’s things to deal with, though in the end, I will get an auction house to come and clear the garage- so many tools, electronics etc. but it is making me think about what else I do not need to keep. And one step further, what would I need / want to keep if/ when I downsize.
There are some flats for over 55s near here, on a bus route, a shop for necessities nearby, communal gardens, laundry and lounge for residents’ use. Management fees are very reasonable. It could be a useful stepping stone.

fancythat Thu 23-Nov-23 11:21:29

Excellent post DaisyAnneReturns

I would add or consider one further point.
Pets. Cats in particular.

My own cat is 10 years old. Largely lives outdoors. May have 4 years left to live?
Myself and people around me are obviously getting older.
I hear of older people tripping up because of the cat or dog.

But there again, for some, they are their, sometimes only, companions.

V3ra Thu 23-Nov-23 11:23:35

Cabbie21 you could phone the apartment complex and ask if you could go and have a look round and a talk to people. Where my Dad lives there is a communal summer house for the residents to use as they wish, we went one day when we knew they had a regular get-together and introduced ourselves.
You could also put your name down as a potential interested party in the future so you would be contacted if an apartment became vacant.
Doing your research ahead of time is always a good plan 👍

DaisyAnneReturns Thu 23-Nov-23 11:34:38

Most flats either don't allow pets or allow the current one but you may not replace them when the time comes, fancythat.

If there is nothing in the lease you might think about making the "no replacement" rule for yourself.

Germanshepherdsmum Thu 23-Nov-23 11:45:00

It seems that may be set to change with the proposed leasehold reform legislation - personally I don’t think most flats provide a suitable environment for pets.

halfpint1 Thu 23-Nov-23 11:58:53

A funny thing happened to me yesterday because of this thread which had stirred me into de-cluttering action.
I dropped the clutter off at my local charity depot, a big busy place, and was surrounded by a T.V. crew making a documentary. Not sure if they were more surprised at my British accent than me at their cameras!

DaisyAnneReturns Thu 23-Nov-23 14:02:53

Germanshepherdsmum

It seems that may be set to change with the proposed leasehold reform legislation - personally I don’t think most flats provide a suitable environment for pets.

Indeed GSM the proposed changes seem set to turn pet keeping on its head but I do wonder if it will make a difference. It will just change from only being allowed pets under described circumstances to only banning pets under described circumstances. It wouldn't be difficult to make the outcome the same.

seadragon Wed 27-Dec-23 20:55:18

pascal30

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

Thank you for your concern pascal30. We have put large planters outside but they have been hit by traffic too. It is very unsafe. I have drafted a letter to the traffic police and local planning seeking advice about traffic calming measures and the fact that the lane is not suitable for business or heavy plant traffic. It is only a matter of time before there is a tragedy involving a visiting child or one of the several elderly occupants. We now have single decker bus reversing up the lane twice a day without using his beeper! I will hand deliver the letter in the New Year.

Grantanow Sun 21-Jan-24 12:07:55

Future proofing depends on what the future holds. Downsizing may be a good idea but there is a lot of expense (stamp duty, agents' fees, perhaps modifications to the new house, maybe smaller furniture to buy, etc.) which might be better applied to the existing house. Moving into a care home may be necessary but involves disposing of personal possessions to fit into one room. It's all a very personal choice.

Callistemon21 Sun 21-Jan-24 13:03:54

Witzend

Calendargirl

You sound inspirational Bijou.

👏👏👏

I’ll second that! 👏

Me too!!

Keep posting Bijou

Callistemon21 Sun 21-Jan-24 13:21:15

Nannarose

You are right LauraNorder to raise the question about how to manage a house. However I know that I am not really suited to the life you describe (it sounds lovely though).
I have observed a couple of friends recently adapting to living alone in a large-ish house (I'm leaving the question of housing availability aside). Both feel that their much-loved house is part of them, and that moving would be like cutting off another part of their soul. I understand that, and am fairly sure it is how I will feel.
I have been as realistic as I can in terms of future-proofing and setting money aside for help / care. But I know that my love for this house and its setting is so strong that it would affect me badly to move.

I've wanted to move to a bungalow for a long time but there is absolutely nothing suitable in this area and DH is reluctant to leave this house although I know it is getting too much for us now, as is the garden.

I'm not sure that I could move to a flat as we feel the need to be outdoors in the better weather and we do tend to spread and use all the rooms here, apart from all the bedrooms.

Although we could alter downstairs to accommodate our future needs, would that make the house less saleable?
Is it pointless paying bills for a house which is only being half used?

Callistemon21 Sun 21-Jan-24 13:25:56

Germanshepherdsmum

I agree. Fine if you’re a social animal. I’m not, nor is my husband. It sounds a bit like living in an upmarket holiday camp (not that I’ve ever been to one). All very jolly. And I couldn’t live in a ‘little cul-de-sac of bungalows’ either. There are quite a lot in our nearest market town. I’m afraid I call them God’s waiting rooms. I can’t imagine ever being willing to surrender my individuality.

I’m afraid I call them God’s waiting rooms
There is a large community of bungalows not far from here and I told the estate agent I thought of it as God's Waiting Room.
He laughed and said that's how they term them - GWR.
However, he assured me that young families are now moving into them too.

Woollywoman Sun 21-Jan-24 16:01:24

We’ve recently moved to a bungalow, and whether you’d refer to it as GWR or not, it’s made life a lot easier for us in lots of ways. I don’t think I’ve “surrendered my individuality” - I think I’ve been able to find it again! :-)

Callistemon21 Sun 21-Jan-24 16:05:40

Woollywoman

We’ve recently moved to a bungalow, and whether you’d refer to it as GWR or not, it’s made life a lot easier for us in lots of ways. I don’t think I’ve “surrendered my individuality” - I think I’ve been able to find it again! :-)

I think it's where there is a whole estate of bungalows, mainly occupied by older people, that the term GWR arises!

It seems very sensible to me to downsize to one.

fancythat Sun 21-Jan-24 17:03:26

Although we could alter downstairs to accommodate our future needs, would that make the house less saleable?

Purely going by old episodes of that Kirsty and Phil programme, love it or l ist it, altering downstairs seems to add value?

But dont take my word for that.
A builder would know, I assume.