THE BLOG

Don't Wait Till It's Too Late

11/09/2014 11:47 | Updated 10 November 2014

Are you like an ostrich with its head in the sand, or are you a busy beaver creating the right habitat? If you've been diagnosed with a degenerative disease or have become disabled, naturally finding good medical care, the right doctor, medication that works for you, a support system, and any additions that can improve your quality of life, are top priority. But what about one's home? Living conditions may no longer be suitable or safe due to changed circumstances, which can seriously affect one's health. Don't push this subject aside in denial, hoping things will work out by themselves.

Old age creeps up on us all, there's no escaping "father time" and before you know it, the years fly by and we find ourselves in what is mystifyingly called "the golden years". In my humble opinion, "the golden years" should really refer to when we are young, fit, healthy and at our peak, not in the dwindling years where unfortunately some of us, are faced with serious health issues. When chronically ill, planning for the future doesn't mean you're pessimistic or giving up, but simply being practical, knowing all the facts and being prepared.

Most people don't think twice about having pension schemes, life insurance, money tucked away in a savings plan for a rainy day, as this is considered being smart and planning ahead. So why is there a psychological block and what is the problem in tackling one's long-term living conditions in the same manner? I know some people who've had large families; once the children are grown, left home, married and have homes of their own, mum and dad remain in the house, rattling around in empty rooms that simply gather dust, demanding constant expenses for the never ending maintenance and upkeep. I've often heard the pathetic excuse of a house holding memories of happy family times, but we can take memories with us anywhere, they are not confined to four walls, and most definitely should not be used as justification for staying put in a house that is no longer suitable for your situation.

There are an array of retirement facilities available today offering independent living, in small self contained apartments. If this isn't for you, then a small apartment on one level with no steps in town close to amenities. Downsizing one's home can feel daunting and overwhelming to say the least, and the feeling of "is this the last stop?" should not influence you making a sensible decision of moving, making the adjustment when you are still in good physical shape and sound mind. Wait too long, and this change becomes all the more difficult, both physically and mentally.

I suffer from two chronic diseases: Gaucher and Parkinson's, so speaking from experience the same applies to anyone suffering serious on-going conditions, where realistically the future needs to be given some serious thought. Don't wait till its too late; decide upon a plan and make the necessary practical changes as soon as you can. If you are in denial, WAKE UP and open your eyes, for a progressive condition more than likely will get worse and later on, it will only be more difficult causing great distress to the person who is ill and immense hardship on the caregiver.

Whether you have the opportunity to build a house made to suite your specific needs, extensive renovations on your present home, or are fortunate to require just some simple alterations, this should be on your priority list. I know many people have difficulty coming to terms with their diagnosis and therefore any change regarding their home is just too much to handle. After all, one's home is usually a "safe haven" so the mere thought of change, understandably is scary. It's all a matter of how you approach it. If you see it as frightening and in a negative light, then that is what it will be. However if you view it as ensuring your safety, comfort, low maintenance, creating calm and pleasant surroundings, this will make a remarkable difference, improving quality of life, both for sufferer and caregiver.

I desperately want to remain mobile for as long as I can, and do everything within my power to keep positive and Parkinson's at bay. However, should I one day have no choice and become wheelchair bound, our house is already equipped and ready for such a life change, although I suspect my spirit will be fighting this adjustment tooth and nail. We have tried to think of everything possible, covering all aspects and eventuality. If you think you have ostrich tendencies, and remain comfortably in denial with your head buried in the sand - please, don't wait till it's too late!

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