Helping rebalance the relationship and letting families enjoy life.

When growing up you never think that one day you will be taking on more responsibility for your Mum and Dad.

Instead you're focused on your career, living your life and possibly becoming a parent to your own children; so it can be a hard reality for families when, as adults, you need to support elderly parents make big life decisions.

It's not always an easy conversation to share your worries about your parents living on their own; their health scares and their ability to manage at home – you might find you are taking on more responsibility for the maintenance around their home as well as your own.

But it is reassuring to know there is a solution to help rebalance the relationship, take away the worry and let the family live and enjoy life together.

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For 95-year-old Muriel Henderson and her family the perfect solution was a serviced apartment at Summerset retirement villages.

Muriel had been living on her own in a large four-bedroom house with a swimming pool and grounds. Her daughter-in-law Caren could not shake the worry of Muriel being alone in the big house, risking a fall or other mishap.

"She did a lot of swimming – but in the last year or so she started saying, 'Oh, the pool filter is now pushing me down the pool'. She lost a bit of that confidence."

Living at home meant pool maintenance, grounds maintenance like doing the lawns, cleaning gutters, trimming trees, caring for the plants – jobs too much for Muriel, often taken on by Caren.

And last year Muriel had a health scare and spent three week in hospital which just added to Caren's worry.

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"We knew, as she was getting older, that something had to happen. She wanted her independence," says Caren. "With older people it's harder to say, 'Oh, I think you should move into something smaller'. They're happy where they are. She is still independent – she is still driving and plays bridge – but it was the worry of her being alone and something happening when I wasn't there."

After a family discussion, they looked around retirement villages before choosing a serviced apartment at Summerset realising they are a great option for those who need a little bit of support but wish to continue to live as independently as possible.

At Summerset each home has a large bedroom featuring an ensuite, separate living area and kitchenette. With staff onsite 24 hours and a list of support services such as house cleaning, meals and personal care available should it be required, serviced apartments allow independence and support, the best of both worlds.

After Muriel's three week stay in hospital she realised she wouldn't be able to look after herself quite so well at home. "I didn't want to be a burden to my family, so I thought, well, I'll have to go into retirement."

It's been a godsend for Muriel and her family. She says: "It's much better [at Summerset]. I have been in contact with more people and gone out more. Everybody has been so really nice to me here – I think I was getting too lonely at home. I relied on Caren coming to see me all the time and doing everything for me."

Caren says the advantages for Muriel have been many and obvious. She is much brighter now, acknowledged by Muriel herself who says: "I have made an effort to get to know people and I think that has made me brighter."

Muriel has her sheets done, bed made, the bathroom cleaned and the vacuuming done – "all those things you don't need to be doing when you are 95," says Caren. There's a hairdresser at Summerset so Caren doesn't need to regularly take her for that.

Muriel has been to Hamilton, Thames and Devonport on organised "mystery trips" as part of the busy activities calendar for residents; she has also been walking more than she did at home, just around the home and on those outings. She says she is fitter than before and may even take up swimming again.

Caren says she doesn't have to worry about her on her own any more: "I did at her house, I'd think, 'oh my gosh, we're leaving her'.

"It does take the pressure of me. Just takes a bit of that that 24-hour care out of my hands, which is quite nice. We come around on the weekends if we're at home. We bring the dog round for a hello and we have a cup of coffee.

In the end, says Caren, the change to Summerset has once more allowed Muriel to be a mother again and has let Caren live more of her life and enjoy being a family again.

For more information about Summerset retirement village serviced apartments: call 0800 334 442 or visit http://www.summerset.co.nz/servicedapartments