As she sat on the edge of her bed, in her 20×20 suite, I could tell that she really was anxious and wanted to leave.
“I’m not happy here”, she said desperately as she looked into my eyes. “I want to go back home!”
Mrs. Jones called me on a Wednesday morning. She stated that she had moved into a retirement residence because her daughter felt it was the right thing for her to do, especially since her daughter would be away for several weeks over the course of the summer.
Seeing that her daughter strongly believed it was in her best interest to move, she felt obligated to follow her daughter’s wishes and moved into a retirement home a few blocks from her apartment.
Her daughter reasoned with her by stating that she wouldn’t be far away from her friends. She’d be able to take the bus down the street to socialize and spend weekends with the people in the apartment building she had called home.
Following the move, her daughter left and Mrs. Jones found herself trying to make new friends, to fit in and make the best of what her daughter wanted for her.
As the days went on, she began to feel closed in, lonely and depressed, despite the vibrancy of the community at the retirement residence. She was in great care however she was eager to go back home.
When I met Mrs. Jones the day after our initial call, she was desperate. She wanted out. She felt trapped and she longed to be back at her apartment with her friends.
I told her that we could help her and we’d be happy to move her back to her home after the weekend.
“I’ll have to stay very busy this weekend because Tuesday seems so very far away”, she exclaimed.
I could sense how distressed she was and I was very much looking forward to helping her find the joy and the comfort of being back home again.
On move day, she was elated to see us. She gave us big hugs and she was all smiles.
“I’m ready!” she said with great enthusiasm.
I didn’t fully realize how much she was looking forward to this day until all her belongings were loaded into the truck and we were on our way to her old home.
The moment she walked into the apartment building, her entire physiology changed.
It said, “I’m home!”
Before we could make the first trip up to her apartment in the elevator, she was greeted with hugs and smiles from a few of the residents who were in the lobby.
“We are so happy you have come back!” It was obvious to me how much everyone in this community meant to each other.
As the boxes and furniture made their way to her apartment, the joy and elation she felt beamed from her entire being. She raced around showing me the view from her balcony, and then to her kitchen to talk about how spacious it was.
“I’ll be able to have my friends over for tea again.”
Her joy was extremely contagious and I was on the brink of tears. She was home.
It’s not often that we move a client back into a previous residence. Most of our clients are moving into an apartment, a condo, a retirement residence or long-term care home. And it’s usually a one-way trip.
The entire experience got me thinking about what she and her daughter discussed prior to her move.
• Were her personal needs discussed in detail?
• Was her social life considered?
• What would she need to make her happy in a new home?
• Did she stay at the retirement residence before she moved to “test” it out?
• Was her financial picture considered?
• Who would benefit most from her move?
• What consequences would they face?
• What if she didn’t like it?
In this case, Mrs. Jones was clearly capable of making her own decisions and she had the cognitive ability to know exactly what she wanted and didn’t want. What went wrong was that it was a hastened decision without proper consideration for what was truly important for Mrs. Jones.
And this is not to say that either of them is to blame. There is no blame. It simply was a case of thinking that this would be best without truly experiencing it before making a big move.
Note: This was not a crisis situation. Mrs. Jones was able to live independently and did not require personal or medical care. This is not always the case and thus every person’s needs are individual and unique.
When you and your loved ones are considering a move to a smaller home or retirement residence, take into consideration what is truly important and what is necessary for that person’s joy, happiness and quality of life.
Begin with the above questions and others that are provided in “The Art of Downsizing: A Step-by-Step Guide to a Smooth Home Transition” available as a free download on this website.
Take the time to ask questions, get honest answers and work together to find a solution that suits the needs and desires of all concerned. If you need help, reach out. We are here to help. You do not have to do it alone.