The recent, record-breaking cold snap and ice storm in our area has created a very troubling issue for anyone who is isolated, especially if they are elderly. No matter the location, whenever bad weather strikes, family members and friends always become concerned about the health and safety of those on their own.
Quite often the person who is living in isolation does so by choice and wishes to remain as independent as possible. Although they manage to get by in good weather, it is the unexpected extremes that cause problems. Loss of heat, power, and communication increases the risks to the person and the family member responding to the emergency. When this occurs, the situation may become a “tipping point”, causing the family to re-think everything. This is especially true if there is also property damage from snow, wind, and water.
Original upload date: Jan. 7, 2018. This situation was repeated on Feb. 12, 2019.
If your family is dealing with this, one suggestion to consider is to delay making decisions about the home until the current emergency has been dealt with, if possible. This circumstance probably involves temporary accommodation for the person and repairs to the property. Waiting for the upcoming season before acting on the home, will help put a different perspective on the situation and provide time for good decisions. This delayed approach also provides extra time to deal with the stuff in the home. In the meantime, there may be creative solutions that allow the person to remain in the home with changes to past practices. Having a younger family member live with the person during the winter season may work if they are available. On the other hand, a complete adjustment to the living arrangements by relocating the person temporarily may be the only practical answer.
Although there may be a wide variety of locations and property types, a comparison of the pros and cons of the status quo and a new direction is advisable. Putting it all “down on paper”, with input from each family member, allows more thoughtful decision-making. If the person is elderly, a visit to the family doctor or a counsellor will go a long way to coming up with a solution. Having third-party professionals involved partially relieves the family from a potential push-back from an elderly person faced with a change to their way of life. Authors Grace Lebow and Barbara Kane described a novel approach by a doctor in their book with the subtitle “A Guide for Stressed-out Children”. The M.D. wrote a prescription consisting of a single line for an elderly lady:
“Mrs. … must have a helper 24 hours a day for medical reasons”. Since the doctor was an authority figure to the lady, she complied with the “prescription“.
A person who is physically isolated, such as someone living in a remote rural area, faces more challenges than someone who is socially isolated but lives in a city near resources and other people. An isolated, elderly person may also be a candidate for downsizing if they are in a home that is much larger than they need, or if they have a lot of stuff that can’t go with them to their next location. See Why Downsize? for more thoughts on this topic.
Q. If you have any isolated family members, what does your family do?
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Unless otherwise credited, all posts are happily authored with a quill pen …
Paul Ferri, Broker, ASA (Accredited Senior Agent)
RE/MAX Unique Inc. Brokerage*, Toronto, Canada
*Each office independently owned and operated