Seniors on the Move – When to Call a Relocation Specialist for Help

Seniors on the Move – When to Call a Relocation Specialist for Help

- in Housing, May/June 2016

How do you know when it’s time to help a senior loved one move to housing that fits their needs? Even trickier, what if the family member resists a change?

It’s a common challenge for families throughout Northeast Ohio. Lee-Ann Spacek, a senior relocation specialist, explains when to call an expert and what to expect.


When I first met Evelyn, she had been living in her three- story brick colonial for over 40 years. She raised her four boys there, entertained friends and created many fond memories. Since her knee surgeries, she had a chair lift installed on the gracious front stairway.


Her eldest son, John, called from Boston. “We have been trying to get her to move to a senior living community fe will be taken out of her houor about four years,” he said. “She tells me there is no way. She says shse ‘feet first.’”

John asked me to help his mother understand that it would be in her best interest to sell the family house and to make a move.

At my first meeting with Evelyn, I listened carefully as she took me through her home and shared her memories. We talked about her daily activities. She used only one level of the house. An accomplished painter and potter, Evelyn had not painted or thrown a pot for a long time. The paints were upstairs, and the potting wheel was in the basement. She needed assistance to do her laundry; the washer and dryer were in the basement.


I asked Evelyn: Is this house safe for you? Is this house convenient for you? Does this house serve and support your daily living activities?

Then I inquired about her. How is she feeling? It turned out she had not eaten much the day of our meeting, and she was feeling the symptoms of low blood sugar. She was using a walker. Her mobility was limited. We went out for a light dinner. Evelyn shared that it was difficult to get out, to see friends and to have a nutritious diet. She missed her art, her painting.

Could these challenges be overcome by moving to a senior living community that offered meals, activities and an accessible apartment, where one of the bedrooms could be dedicated to her paints and her potting wheel? She thought maybe, just maybe, that could work.

Together we visited a senior community a church friend had recently moved to. During the tour, she learned about the services it offered, and she walked through a two-bedroom apartment with a southern exposure. She visited the dining room and shared a meal with new acquaintances.

After learning about the senior living community, exploring its opportunities and honestly assessing her current living situation, Evelyn sold her house and moved. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right decision for her.

She no longer has the burden of maintaining a large house and has freed up her equity. Her sons are relieved their mom is in a safe and comfortable place that meets her needs.

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