Too Old For the Cabin? Never!

Got One Foot in the Grave? Keep the Other on the Dock!
Senior cottagers and cabin owners are realizing that spending time at the lake is beginning to get difficult. This doesn’t mean you have to give it up – just make a few adjustments.

Has Time Begun To Catch Up With You?
You don’t know exactly when it all started but recently some things have changed. In past years, no one even blinked an eye when you were alone at the cabin. Now, the moment you suggest the idea of heading up to the lake on your own the entire family gets concerned. In fact, you may be starting to feel a bit uneasy about these solo trips yourself.

Your gut reaction to the thought of giving up the cottage is probably defensive, and it should be. After all, you bought the property, you cleared it, you built the cabin and you have looked after it so that everyone in the family can enjoy it – including yourself, and now that you are getting a little long in the tooth the last thing you want to think about is whether or not your cottage days are coming to an end.

While you hate the notion of retiring from the cottage, the facts of life must be addressed if you are going to stretch out your time at the lake. Otherwise, your kids and grandchildren are going to convene a private meeting and decide it is time to ban grandpa and grandma from the cabin.


Ok, maybe it is a bit drastic and wouldn’t quite take place that way, but if you suspect the family is beginning to worry, it’s time to make some changes.

In a perfect world, schedules would be arranged to ensure that a family member is always with you at the cottage but this just isn’t realistic for most families and you probably don’t want that anyway. You know their lives are busy and if you’re completely honest, you still value your private time at the cabin.

The more likely scenario is that the rest of the family will start picking up some of the slack, at least part-time. This means you will have to pass the torch on a few of the cottage jobs. If you sit and think about it, this isn’t a bad idea.

These days you must concede that the old legs and knees are not as good as they used to be. Your eyesight is likely worse than you will admit to anyone. While you used to pretend that your hearing was bad to avoid doing some of the cottage chores, nowadays you really don’t hear so well.

And then there’s the bad back. You let on that it’s just a bit stiff, but puttering is becoming less enjoyable. In the past you actually looked forward to the spring cleaning, summer maintenance and fall repairs. Chopping wood used to be invigorating.

Not to mention the arthritis which is getting so bad that you have to pop half a bottle of pills every morning just to get your hands loosened up enough to take the top off the gas tank in the boat.

While we’re on the topic of the boat, trying to get into “old reliable” has become a real adventure. Once you finally manage to get settled, you worry the whole time you are fishing that you might not be able to get back out, let alone make it up the dock and across the property to the storage shed.

Actually, walking anywhere at the cabin takes careful planning. By the time you finish your business in the outhouse and shuffle back to the cottage it’s time to start the trip all over again just to be sure that you get there on time.

With all these complications you may now be thinking that it would be easier for everyone if you just stepped aside. Well, don’t go there.


Your best days of the past three or four decades have probably been spent at the cottage. Should you give it up just because you are slowing down? No way!

Start by having an open conversation with the family about managing the cottage. Decide who can realistically help with which jobs and when. Once that is sorted out, it’s time to address the remaining concerns.

Here are a few suggestions:

Buy a pontoon boat.
These things are perfectly designed for you. They are sturdy, comfortable, and best of all, you can walk straight onto the dock at the same level without worrying about that dreaded step. Essentially it becomes your own private ferry.

Get yourself a 4X4 ATV with a little trailer.
This solves the mobility issue of walking up the dock to the cottage, carrying supplies or wood across the property, heading to the loo, or even cruising over to a neighbour’s place to visit for lunch or play a game of cards.

If the property is extremely steep with lots of stairs and little room for the ATV, go for a mechanical lift.

Consider installing a composting toilet in your bedroom.
If it is done properly you should be able to slide right out of bed and onto the potty with little effort. Don’t be shy about it – that’s exactly what composting toilets are designed for.

Buy a set of two-way radios.
They are a great way to stay in touch around the cottage property and the neighbours don’t have to listen to you yell at each other all day.

Start paying someone to do the maintenance and repairs that are just too difficult.
Every lake has a local handyman. There is nothing wrong with using hired help once in a while and you can feel good about doing your part to reduce unemployment.

Buy a log splitter.
These things are almost as fun as chopping the wood yourself. Hire a summer student or the neighbour’s kids to drop by and stack the wood for you.

Get your groceries and water delivered.
You probably never really liked going shopping anyway. These days it is easy to set up a weekly schedule and have someone bring your supplies and remove the garbage and recycling for you.

Keep a mobile phone or a satellite phone with you at all times.
If you happen to get into trouble when you are on your own, you can easily call your local emergency number for help. After all, that’s what you pay your taxes for. Besides, haven’t you always wanted to go for a ride in a helicopter?

I know, you are thinking that these things cost a lot of money. Yes, you will have to spend a few bucks. But I suspect if you are reading this article and consider yourself to be a member of this cottager demographic, you likely have a few pennies stashed away. If you don’t, the bank will gladly lend you the cash, especially if you own your cottage – which you probably do.

What else are you going to use the money for?

Remember, it’s still your cottage, and you deserve to continue enjoying it. Besides, if you don’t spend the money, the son-in-law or daughter-in-law that you don’t particularly care for will gladly blow it on something frivolous once you are gone.

Written by: Andrew Walker

A set of Two-Way Radios and a Log Splitter for the cabin or cottage.

Want more equipment ideas that make your life at the cabin or cottage a bit easier?
Go to the Cabin and Cottage Gift Ideas page.

Planning to retire to the cottage but want to make a bit of money when you are there?
Go to the Retiring To The Cottage page.


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