Home. The very mention of the word can conjure up memories of golden days gone by. Most middle-aged people likely have fond memories of growing up in a place where kids roamed free, parents didn’t worry where you were, a baseball glove and bat could keep you busy for hours and the bicycle was the greatest mode of transportation ever invented. Home was a place where a kid could feel safe, mom was always available and supper was devoured as quickly as possible so you could get back outside for those last few minutes of daylight.
Boy, how things have changed!
Today, many neighborhoods are quiet, bikes are something found in a museum, baseball has become an afterthought and exploring the outdoors is what old people talk about when they reflect on their youth. If it’s not in 3D and coming at you in total surround sound, what’s the point of living?
Relax; this is not a finger pointing session that seeks to blame the ills of society on the changing dynamics of the home. Rather, this is a reality check on how home life has changed for all of us. For better or worse is not for me to decide, it’s the reality that everything changes and more often than not families are unprepared.
For example: mom and dad have lived in the same house for over 50 years. When this home was first purchased it was the perfect place to raise a family. Typically this was 2-story 3 bedroom house with a full bathroom upstairs and a half bathroom on the main floor. The fact that you had to navigate 15 steps to get to your bedroom or take a shower never entered your mind, that’s the way houses were built.
However, the aging process has made climbing those steps somewhat less enjoyable and trudging down to the basement to wash clothes has simply lost its luster. Taking a bath or shower is no longer as enjoyable, especially navigating that ancient tub and those rickety faucets. But hey, you’re still at home and that’s where you intend to stay until they take you out feet first.
How many of you have heard your parents state that they are never leaving home? Or how many of you have said this yourself? Why is it that the place we used to love and treasure so much has in many ways become our prison? “I’m never leaving home and that’s all there is to it” has been said by many on more than one occasion. But let’s be honest, just as kids have changed over the years so too have aging adults and while we love the memories of our once perfect home, it is no longer appropriate or safe.
So, if home is no longer safe, why do mom and dad vehemently refuse to leave? While you will hear many opinions on this topic in the end I have come to the conclusion that the real reason people won’t leave home is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of what lies ahead and the concern that they will be put into a place that looks, smells and feels like the end. Who really wants to be a part of that! So clinging to one’s home is often the last battle fought by seniors because no matter how unsafe home gets, it’s got to be better than what’s next.
Sadly, while we claim to live in the information age, on this issue of ‘what’s next after home’ is one of the most misinformed items that travel’s along the senior circuit. And while the topic of senior living options will be saved for another day, I challenge my readers to reflect on meaning of home. Is home really the place where we lived, raised our children and have now hunkered down to survive to the bitter end? Or is home the place that provides the safest care and allows seniors to live a life of dignity and where loved ones can come to congregate knowing that mom and dad are truly safe.
I chose to believe that home is where the heart is and has nothing to do with a physical structure that has long outlived its usefulness.
Kevin and Cilla Buck own and operate CarePatrol of Northeast Ohio, a Free senior placement service that assists families in finding just the right assisted-living community based on health requirements, finances and location. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or like them on Facebook at CarePatrol of Northeast Ohio.