With or without you

Marianne Delorey
Marianne Delorey

By Marianne Delorey

Dearest Relative,

I recently mentioned my worries about you living in that big, old house with the stairs. You made it clear you did not want to talk about losing your independence. “I’m fine! Living here is my choice. You cannot take that away from me.” This is true. Legally, I get no vote. I do not have to agree with your choices.

I get some choices, too, and I am writing this letter to tell you what my choices will be. As the one who will probably be helping you the most, we will have to make adjustments on the fly if you have a medical crisis. Let’s say you fall and break your hip. You will likely go to the hospital and then a rehab for a while. This will give us some time to plan, but not much. If you cannot return home safely, we will probably have to find an apartment with a short waiting list. There aren’t many of those, so we will have to take what is available. Once you are there, we can put your name on the waiting list for the apartments at the end of my street. I know you liked those, but you will have to wait your turn on the list. I’m told it is 3 years’ long.

We’ll have to switch your doctor, too. There is always a new doctor right out of medical school that will take you on.

I know you probably would prefer to stay in your own neighborhood and keep your own doctor, but as I will be the one taking you shopping and bringing you to your appointments, I will need you to be closer to me. As you know, I work full time. Every time you have an appointment, I will have to take time off from work and if you stay where you are, my time will be eaten up quickly.

We will be using my neighbor for legal matters. She is smart and I trust her. She says that when the time is right, we may have to go to court to get guardianship or conservatorship. That is another day or so off from work but it will be necessary since I don’t have access to your bank accounts nor do I have power of attorney.

I wish living with me was an option. I don’t have the expertise and quite truthfully, my house doesn’t have a lot of extra space. I hope you don’t think it is a personal affront. I love you, but I also love you enough to want the best for you, and that is not my house.

I envision packing the bare essentials from your house – toiletries, linens, clothes, maybe a piece or two of furniture. Most of your stuff, including your special collectibles, will be boxed up and put in storage. I’m sure it will take me several days to box up your house.

It won’t be easy on me, taking all this time off from work, especially when I am trying to visit you and spend time with you, too. But I love you and I will gladly do this for you. Of course, if you want to make this easier for me, we can take steps now to make the process go more smoothly.

Would you like to apply to the building down the road? Do you have a lawyer you’d prefer? Shall we spend a weekend going through your attic together? Please know that I want you to have a say, but if we can’t talk now, I will be on my own solving these problems when I am under the gun. Please help me do that by respecting that I will need to plan for you if you can’t plan for yourself.

With Love,

Your Honest Younger Relative

Marianne Delorey, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Colony Retirement Homes. She can be reached at 508-755-0444 or mdelorey@colonyretirement.com and www.colonyretirementhomes.com.  Archives of articles from previous issues can be read at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com.