Just In Time
“Your book Stay or Move? comes to me at a good time.”
“Oh, and why is that?” I asked the book store worker who had just helped get my book into the store and onto the shelf.
“My mom needs help but she doesn’t want to let anyone in. She’s angry. But she lives on the second floor and I’m really concerned for her. Do you think you could help?”
“I understand, no one ever wants to talk about getting old, especially not moving to a residence”, I reassured the adult child. “I am willing to give it a try. See if she would be interested in sitting down and speaking with me. We could simply discuss her present situation and see what could help her now and in the near future.”
A few days later…
“Ok. I spoke with her. She is expecting you (on this day and time). Good luck! My mom gets pretty nasty and rude sometimes so please let me know if she doesn’t let you in”, said my new client, with an uncomfortable chuckle.
Off I went, never knowing what to expect nor ever having any expectations or preconceived notions of possible outcomes nor where the conversation will go. Fully knowing that once the door opens, I will be able to see beauty in front of me no matter how awful the situation might be.
Breaking the Ice
The door opens a crack. “Hi. You must be Marie. My children warned me you were coming. Come, let’s go to the kitchen.”
“Have a seat,” she said, standing by my side in a defensive pose, hands on her hips.
“So what do you want? Do you want to see how I put on my socks?”
“No. Only if you wish to show me.”
“Oh, so you want to see how I go to the bathroom or get in and out of bed?”
“No. Not unless that is something you would like to show me.”
“Oh, you don’t even care about that? You just want me to move?! That’s why my family sent you here, right? Is the moving truck here too?”
“No. Not at all. But if there is a moving truck, I hope the guys are cute!”, I said as I winked to her. She smiled back and finally sat down.
“Well everyone else who comes in here wants me to do all these things, tell me what to do and boss me around. You don’t?” she said with a nod of her chin towards me. “Why? What do you want?”
A pretty intimated and intimidating person was sitting across from me.
“I was asked to come meet you to discuss what could be of help to you right now. Your children are concerned about the stairs, and I must say they are pretty steep. How long have you lived here?”
The conversation went on for 3 hours. We covered her current health issues, her sadnesses in life, her current struggles, her loneliness, her anger, her passions, her future and so much more. The intimidation turned to trust and sharing. I was hugged on the way out and asked when the next visit would be.
Helping Seniors, Our Passion
Celebrating the older person in front of me, understanding their needs, and trying to find solutions to help them bloom is my passion.
How someone puts on their socks or gets in and out of the bath belongs to them. Ideally they feel safe doing these tasks. If not, what can be done to help? Can something be modified or implemented to make daily living more safe and comfortable? The answer is never the same nor is there ever a ‘one size fits all’ solution or approach as every life and set up is vastly different.
When our phone rings we often find a caring individual in distress on the other end of the line: “My elderly mother/father/aunt/neighbour needs help. When I offer my assistance, tempers flare. I am at a loss as to how to get involved. What can I do?”
Fully understanding that no one wants to move, especially to a retirement community or residence, exploring the options of staying at home is always where the conversation starts. We base ourselves on years of professional and personal experience to adeptly answer this difficult question and guide the client to solutions.
Seeing that we are living longer, many of us, at some point, may be faced with helping or assisting our parents, an elderly friend or isolated neighbour. Whatever your question or situation, Helping Seniors is here to help.
Marie-Claude Giguère, Founder of Helping Seniors
Years of Experience
For close to 20 years, Marie-Claude has dedicated herself to working with seniors, either as director of activities in residences or assisting them in relocating. In 1999 she founded Helping Seniors™, a business that specializes in relocation services for seniors. Through consultation, seniors and their family members discuss their specific needs: can the senior remain at home, and if so, what are some different solutions? If a move is required, options are to find suitable solutions; individual(s) are guided through the moving process and assisted with the sale of the home.
In 2005, this mother of two became certified as a Real Estate Agent, as required by Quebec law to refer seniors to retirement residences for compensation, going on to become a Chartered Real Estate Broker in 2008 with the sole focus of assisting seniors.
Marie-Claude has a B.A. in Recreation and Leisure from Ottawa University. She is a member of National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM); Canadian Association on Gerontology; American Association on Aging; and PartÂge, of which she is presently President, a group of businesses specializing in products and services tailored to seniors. She has also presided over a board of directors for a senior-day center for 5 years as well as being actively involved in her children’s schools.
Spreading the Word
In 2012, Marie-Claude self-published Stay or Move? How to Talk to a Senior About Their Changing Needs and Retirement Residences which has won awards in the United States as well as having received 5 star book reviews. She is presently writing and illustrating a children’s story, Grandma’s Place, that will bring attention to the language we use when a senior faces a loss of autonomy.
This award winning author works in close proximity with seniors and families at a very delicate time in life, and her intimate knowledge of privately run retirement residences and the industry that surrounds them. Personally she has visited close to 400 privately run facilities, mostly located in the Greater Montreal area, other parts of Canada, United States and Europe. Her first guide printed in 2002, titled 65+ Key Questions You Must Ask When Looking for a Retirement Residence details the first step before going out to look at privately run retirement residences.