We've just spent some time with my in-laws trying to find them a possible house to move to now that they are getting old and frail. The only fly in the ointment is that they still see themselves as sprightly sixty year olds - which is as far from reality as you can get.
They have lived on an acre of land for the last 25 years - and have been keen gardeners turning the majority of it into flower beds, fruit trees and vegetable plots. All was well until the last few years when the ageing process has caught up with them and all the things they used to do are no longer possible. My father-in-law is quite frail and uses a walking frame, he now can't do anything that involves walking, reaching, bending etc etc, and this of course makes gardening a non-event for him. Meanwhile, his 83 year old wife who has been looked after all their married life, now has to shoulder the workload or get the "children" to do it for them.
There is a lot to be said for "honour thy parents" but you still have to earn a living and have a life of your own that doesn't necessarily involve clearing firebreaks, chopping wood or cutting down dead trees. At the same time you can't expect your 80+ year old mother to do it either - quite a quandary and the solution is for them to move to a smaller suburban block and reduce the load. (A better solution would be a villa or a unit or a retirement village, but they don't want to go where "old people" live!)
Part of this weekend has been taken up with going to a home open with them to see if it would suit them. The house is in a lovely suburb (not far from us) and is large but not too large, has a good sized yard and looked perfect for them. The trouble is that they start looking at it from the perspective of sixty year olds. "Where would we put the spare queen sized bed?" "I don't think the pantry is big enough." "The stove is too low and I'd have to bend down to put my baking in it." and so it went on and on and on.
We did our utmost to point out all the boxes that the place ticked - including the large shed that my father-in-law needs for all the woodwork and things (that he hasn't been able to do for the last ten years!) The real estate agent just let the process flow around him and was very kind - it was me who wanted to do a little bit of parent strangling at times! I guess this is the beginning of a process and maybe with time it will get easier.
Patience has never been one of my strong points - especially when I think I know how something should be done. This will be good training for me and hopefully I'll manage to keep my peace and not say anything that I'll regret later. I think they know that this move is inevitable and any move is painful and difficult, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and just do it (thanks Nike!) and I think they know this in their hearts. It won't be this house they buy, but maybe somewhere down the track they'll find a home they can envisage living in. Loving ageing parents and knowing where to draw the line is a tricky path to walk and sometimes I just need to back off a little and let things be.