Still Mine

Based on a true story, Still Mine is unusual not for its portrayal of an octogenarian with worsening dementia, but for the focus on her changing housing needs, and her equally elderly husband’s efforts to build her an accessible home. Irene Morrison has been having trouble getting around, and after a fall her husband Craig moves her bed into the living room and installs a Port-a-Potty on the front porch so she won’t have to climb the stairs again. Their children are dismayed at their non-standard living arrangements, though, and vaguely hint that Something Must Be Done About Mom. Craig decides to start building a smaller, one level house with a wheelchair ramp to prepare for the day they can no longer manage in the house he built for them at the beginning of their marriage, and begins construction with timber he’s cut down himself. His kids urge him to get all the necessary permits, though, and thus begins a legal battle spurred on by the urgency of having the house ready by the time Irene recovers from a broken hip.

Ironically, it’s the same sense of rugged independence that keeps most people from buying visitable houses or making renovations for wheelchair access when they’re relatively young; many buy houses with stairs to the entrance, not considering whether they’ll be able to climb them in 30 years. And the need for a wheelchair is often a sudden and unexpected one, requiring extensive renovations just as the medical bills are arriving. Daunted, many feel they have no choice but to move to a nursing home, though the cost of renovations or relocation and personal assistance services is usually cheaper in the long run then extended nursing home care.

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