Is it time to talk?

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8th Jun Communities

For many families, finding the right time to broach the subject of downsizing and moving to a retirement living community can be challenging.

Often, retirees put the process off as they’re busy with day-to-day life, and the task of deciding where to move to and sorting through a lifetime of belongings seems overwhelming. Meanwhile, their children start to worry about them, caught between not wanting to sound pushy and the fear of leaving it too late.

Philip and Edna had been living in their family home in Harpenden for 48 years before they decided to move to The Sailings in Southport last summer.

“We decided we had to move. Living where we were was starting to become dangerous. I had a fall on the stairs and our girls were worrying about us,” Philip explained. “Our younger daughter, Rachel, lives up in Scotland near Oban, and she manages a holiday park on the side of the loch. Mary lives near Chelmsford in Essex and runs her own mortgage business.”

Rachel and Mary both felt that the family home had become a bit much for their parents. Rachel said: “The stairs were quite steep and Mum was getting frail on her feet. It was a constant worry that if something happened to one of them, that they would be there by themselves. I know they had neighbours and things around but it’s not the same.”

Mary added: “In the lockdown, they didn’t really see anyone, and I think especially Mum became quite isolated. Dad was still going out because they were very involved with the Church and he would go and check the Church Hall. I was doing their online shopping which meant that they weren’t going out very much. They both enjoy socialising and so Mum was really missing out on going into town and bumping into people.”

In June 2021 Edna, Philip, Mary and her husband Simon, stayed in a lodge at the holiday park which Rachel manages near Oban, and the girls said they wanted to talk to them about downsizing and moving.

Rachel explained: “We’d tried to broach it before. So, this time we said ‘you’ve got to make a decision and it’s got to happen this year. Mum’s health is failing, she’s getting a bit more frail.”

Philip and Edna hadn’t thought seriously about moving until that conversation. Philip said: “We had always been fairly active – we both learned to ski in our late forties. However, more recently we’d started to get some mobility problems. When our children said how worried they’d been, we decided we would move to Southport, which is near to Ormskirk where Edna had lived until we married.”

Edna added: “We wanted to maintain our independence. Southport was halfway between our two daughters; we had lots of connections there and Philip’s brother who had lived in France, had come back to Lancashire. One day Rachel rang us up and said ‘Hey, I’ve found you somewhere in Southport.’ And she went on to tell us all about The Sailings.”

Rachel said: “Dad was a little bit reluctant at first and then he just suddenly said one day ‘you’re never going to guess who I’ve been talking to. I’ve just spoken to a lovely lady at The Sailings and it sounds absolutely marvellous’.”

Philip and Edna decided they wanted to go and visit The Sailings and Mary and her husband took them. Mary said: “We went, and they just fell in love with the place. It was light and airy and there was lots of space. It was just lovely.

“The staff and the sales team at Adlington weren’t at all pushy. They were just really pleasant, really nice and everything that they promised, has happened. They’ve carried on showing the sort of care that they did on that first visit.”

Philip’s only regret is not moving sooner. He explained: “We probably should have moved 10 years earlier. I was too involved in too many things that deterred us from actually moving. We’re pleased that we’ve made the move and we’re happy here. We would definitely recommend it. In fact, we have done. We told some friends that we were moving here, and they kept ringing up and asking us questions after we moved in. Then, just after Christmas, they called and said: ‘we’ve decided we’re moving into The Sailings’.”

The move has also had a positive impact on Mary and Rachel. Mary said: “It’s given us peace of mind. With elderly parents, you don’t know what they’re going to need and when they’re going to need it. It’s so comforting that they’ve got support there and we couldn’t ask for more.”