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Royal Haslar


Father and son enjoying retirement together Image

Father and son enjoying retirement together

10th November 2023

It’s not just young adults who are living with their parents for longer these days. A role reversal is going on among the over 60s generation too – with older parents moving in with their retired children.

With one in four people set to be over 65 by 2050 (according to the Office for National Statistics) the trend for two-generation households is set to boom among retirees with the trend already gaining pace in retirement communities.

The benefits are numerous including a reduction in costs, ensuring parents aren’t lonely and are cared for and the ability for both to live independent lives knowing help is on hand if needed.

Colin Filmer, 92, a former Lieutenant-Commander in the Royal Navy, shares a two-bed apartment with his 53-year-old son David at a converted naval hospital in Gosport on the South Hampshire coast.

Both father and son are wheelchair uses – David all his life and Colin only in the past year, after having part of his leg amputated due to vascular disease.

David found their first-floor home at Royal Haslar, a grade II listed waterfront retirement community.

Their apartment is accessible by two lifts from the ground floor and has an open-plan kitchen and living area, as well as a panoramic 180-degree view of the Solent which David knew would be perfect for his sea-loving father.

“Moving in together was due to several other factors and a decision discussed with my siblings,” David explains.

“As a family, we decided it would be sensible if I were the one to move in with Dad to support him.”

 Colin who had recently lost his wife of more than 50 years and needed to downsize from the family home, bought the apartment in February and had his operation soon after.

So David was on hand to help him navigate life from an electric wheelchair in a kind of role reversal.

“I’ve been helping dad with learning tricks such as how to transfer sideways onto a bed or chair and aligning the wheelchair,” David explains. “I am also encouraging him not to crash into the furniture or other people.”

That’s not to say there haven’t been challenges. “It’s only natural that we drive each other mad sometimes,” adds Colin, “But short of hoping to go deaf early the key to making it to work is to cultivate patience and to understand one another’s differences.”

Colin went to Royal Naval College Dartmouth at the age of 13 and David to boarding school at 10.

So both learned about communal living very early on.

“We are able to live independently and also enjoy doing things together, “ David adds. “We like going for walks on the beach, round the site – but I do like something with a bit of adrenaline – like water-skiing and bike rides.”

“ I do try and get out into the wonderful grounds at least once every day,” he says. “There are 62 acres to plenty to explore including a lovely Memorial Garden. And when I am inside the apartment, I am never bored – there is a constant flow of fascinating shipping plying the Solent.”

At just 53, David is the youngest resident at Royal Haslar but he has made a life for himself there. Passionate about the former naval hospital’s history, he has started to volunteer with the Haslar Heritage Group and with his father suggested ways to “future-proof” Royal Haslar for themselves and other differently-abled residents, such as installing automated doors.

The combination of the unique heritage, seafront location and planned future facilities, including on-hand medical care, café, and various communal spaces, have made any current compromises worthwhile.

“I am very lucky having both parents who were very hands off. They encouraged me to get on and live my life as an individual.

David Filmer resigned from working in higher education as a disability support worker to look after his father. “I would love to stay here after dad passes. But it is his property and I have two siblings so we will have to see.”

In the meantime he is looking forward to spending his first Christmas with Colin at their apartment. “I will be doing the cooking with the help of Marks & Spencer,” he adds.

Source: Retiremove -

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