When Janet and Jim Mair moved into their McCarthy & Stone apartment, they didn’t just gain a lovely new home, they also gained closer relationships with their family. Here, three generations of the Mair family explain the difference the move has made to all their lives.
Until recently, Emma’s contact with her grandparents was limited by the 50-mile distance between them. ‘I only really saw them on special occasions, such as birthdays, Christmas and Mother’s Day,’ she says. ‘Mum was always driving back and forth to see them, but I couldn’t go with her because I was at school.’
Like many retired couples, Janet, 91, and Jim, 87, valued their independence. For 20 years, they’d lived happily in their three-bedroom villa in Livingstone, near Edinburgh, with regular visits from their three children and eight grandchildren. Then Janet’s health began to deteriorate. ‘Mum developed short-term memory problems and then, three years ago, she broke her femur and her mobility suffered,’ says their daughter Moira (Emma’s mum). The distance between them, once quite manageable, suddenly became a source of great stress, especially for Moira, 50.
‘I lived nearer Mum and Dad than my brothers, who both live in the Newcastle area, so I saw them most. I began staying with them most weekends, leaving home early on Friday morning,’ she recalls. ‘While I was there I’d clean and sort out the house, take Mum out and try to give Dad some respite. Allister [Moira’s husband] managed to keep everything going at home, so we survived, but it was grim.’ For nearly three years, Moira managed as best she could. ‘The stress levels were high. I always had an emergency bag packed and waiting at home – just in case they ever needed me in a hurry.’
Then last year, a colleague showed Moira a McCarthy & Stone brochure for a new development in Paisley, called Ashwood Court, just a 15-minute drive from Moira’s home. ‘I’d been trying to persuade Mum and Dad to move for years, but they’d always been reluctant,’ says Moira. ‘I was afraid to look at the development, in case I built my hopes up.’ But with persuasion from Allister, she finally agreed to take a look. ‘As soon as I walked through the door of Ashwood Court, I knew it was the right place. There was something lovely about it, I could feel my heart beating faster,’ recalls Moira.
‘When I entered the flat, it had lovely views and was so bright and spacious that I thought, “I could live here, and if I could live here, Mum and Dad could too.”
‘I stood in the living room – it was so peaceful. Then I phoned my brother and said, ‘I’ve found the right place.’” Thankfully, Jim and Janet were equally impressed when Moira took them to see it, and after carefully weighing up the pros and cons, they made their decision. Moira was determined the move would be as stress-free as possible.
Using McCarthy & Stone’s part-exchange service, Janet and Jim received a ‘very fair’ price for their house, and within six weeks they were ready to move. ‘My brother took them out for the day, while we did the move,’ says Moira. ‘The removers were brilliant and friends came to help too. We were exhausted, but by 7pm we had their new apartment sorted. When Mum and Dad arrived back, the family was waiting to welcome them home.’ Fortunately, Janet and Jim loved what they saw. ‘They came in, sat on the sofa and gazed around at their furniture and all their pictures on the walls. I said to Dad, “Are you a happy man?” He smiled and replied, “I’m a very happy man.” That’s all we wanted.’
Six months later, all the family are enjoying the benefits of the move. Moira’s brothers and their family visit regularly, taking advantage of Ashwood Court’s guest suite. ‘The great thing is that when my brothers visit Mum and Dad, I can see them too, whereas before it was just too far to travel. So now we’re all seeing more of each other and it’s definitely brought us a lot closer together.’ Moira still can’t believe how lucky she is to have her parents nearby. ‘It’s been 30 years since they lived this close to me … to be honest, I never thought I’d see the day. The difference is unbelievable.’
Best of all, she can enjoy their company instead of just worrying about them. ‘I’m not exhausted from the driving. I can just pop in whenever I want to, knowing they’re both safe and secure.’ Emma is reaping the benefits. ‘Grandma and Grandpa are more involved in my life. When I finished my last dress, a heavy Victorian design, I took it straight round to show Grandma, which is something I could never have done before.’
Jim and Janet are also developing a new social life at Ashwood Court, much to their family’s delight. ‘I can go to coffee mornings with them and I’ve been to several social events too,’ says Emma. ‘Just having other people to natter with makes a difference, especially for Dad,’ says Moira. So what do Jim and Janet make of their new home, now they’ve had a chance to settle in? ‘Everything is easier because our family is so close to us,’ says Jim, who is certain they made the right move, at the right time.
‘We have a delightful family, always looking out for each other and for us. And the apartment is right up our street. It feels like home – well, it is home.’
As for Moira, she no longer needs to have that emergency bag. ‘One of the greatest gifts elderly parents can give to their children is peace of mind and that’s what I now have,’ she adds. ‘It’s worth its weight in gold.’