While Hazel was out for the day, on a bus trip to Calgary, Charlie decided that a visit with his good friends, Bob and Bev, was long overdue.
Bob had taught with Charlie many moons ago, and although their time at the same school had been brief, they had remained very good friends and had kept in touch for decades. After five years in Spruce Grove, Bob moved to the west end of Edmonton, where he married Beverly and, later, had two boys. His sons were a little younger than John and James, but the boys all got along well, much to the torment of poor Catherine.
Beverly’s health had been declining over the past few years. Osteoporosis had taken its toll on her, and getting around was very difficult. She wasn’t able to leave the house for very long, so Charlie and Hazel had tried to make a better effort at being the ones to visit her. However, the past year had been full of change for them, and Charlie felt guilty that it had been over a year since he had been over.
He had driven right past the house the first time around. He didn’t recognize it at first on account of the accessibility ramp that had been built leading to the front door. The porch had been removed to accommodate the new feature, which made the façade look very different…though still very warm and welcoming. As Charlie approached the door, it hit him that Bev’s mobility was worse than what they had let on over the phone.
“Hello there stranger!” Bob gave Charlie a big hug and led him inside. The house looked so different. Many of the walls had been removed to allow for wider entrances and a free flow of space. It was bright, airy and didn’t feel so cramped. “I like what you’ve done with the place,” Charlie said as he made his way into the living room. Bob let out a laugh, “It was so much work, I can’t even tell you Charlie. We’re so glad it’s done. We were living in a construction zone for the past year. Hold on, I’ll go get Bev.”
Charlie sat on the couch looking around. He could see right into the kitchen from where he sat. The first thing he noticed was that the counters were lower than what you would see in most homes. “Hello Charlie!,” Bev beamed as she came around the corner with Bob. She was steering her wheelchair into the room with Bob not far behind. “Hello there pretty lady!,” Charlie said as he rose to give her a hug. “How have you been keeping?”
“Oh, I’ve been keeping just fine. My hips, legs and knees beg to differ though,” Bev said, letting out a giggle. “Body’s not what it used to be.” Charlie gave an understanding nod. “The place looks great. Is it easier to get around now?” Bev smiled, “Oh much better. I don’t need Bob running for things every ten minutes for me. And you know how much Bob hates dishes, so he made sure to lower the sink for me so that I can still get to them in this thing.” Bob just shook his head. “She jests you know.”
“We had made the decision, once Bev’s pain started getting bad, that we needed to do some renovations if we were going to stay here. So about a year ago, we started putting a list together of things we needed to change to accommodate a wheelchair if the time were to come.” Bev chimed in, “and the time came quicker than we thought!” Bob put his hand on her shoulder and continued, “We are really happy with things though. We raised the boys here and now it’s ‘grandma and grandpa’s house’ for the grandkids. We didn’t want to give all that up.”
“I know the feeling,” Charlie agreed. “Hazel and I had a hard time deciding what to do, but with our house being as much work as it was, particularly the property and maintenance, we downsized and moved into our seniors community. It’s what worked for us. We miss the memories, but we’re starting new ones too.”
The three of them spent the next two hours catching up, and even had a quick game of cards before Bev decided she was getting tired and should probably head for a short nap. Charlie thanked Bob and Bev for the hospitality and he was thanked for visiting. As he made his way to the car, he thought a lot about making changes as one ages and the different decisions that need to be made to best suit a person’s needs. Aging was definitely an adventure!
The Charlie & Hazel story deals a lot with seniors housing issues, but we understand that many seniors choose to age in their family home.
Are you a senior couple that have chosen this option? Are you in the midst of renovations? A Master’s Candidate from the University of Alberta is conducting research on Age Friendly Renovations and is looking for a couple that might be interested in participating in her research.
There are two critical elements that need to be present for the couple to qualify as participants. The first is that this couple has to have lived in a single family home, which they own, for at least five years. Ideally, they will have been in the home even longer. In the best case scenario they will still be in the home they have raised a family in. Second, they have to be presently in the midst of a renovation (a relatively modest one) that they have undertaken because of their intention to age-in-place. The work that is carried out does not need to be done by a professional. It can be done by a friend or family member, or it may even be a DIY renovation.
For more information, please click on the link below to see how you might be able to get involved. If you are interested, you can contact the researcher directly at the email and number provided, or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.