When my sister and I were growing up in Claremont, we shared a bathroom. She is a few years older, and family albums include pictures of her walking me on a leash. I guess she considered me a pet.

We were close, and at some point in our teens I transitioned to the role of becoming her “big brother.” She would ask for my advice about boyfriends, what to wear, and other such important issues facing a teenage girl in the 1950s.

She went off to college, married, taught school for a while, and raised a family. They lived in my brother-in-law’s New Hampshire hometown, and we all got together on family occasions, holidays, and ski weekends. We were no longer the bathroom sharing siblings of our youth, but the ties that bind remained intact.

Eventually, with their children grown, they left New England for a retirement life in Florida. I saw them there a couple of times, but mostly in Jaffrey when they came north in the summer. And then, a few years ago, they stopped traveling and we didn’t see each other for quite a while. Thanks to the telephone and email, we stayed in touch.

If this family tale sounds familiar, it’s because it happens in many if not most families where aging siblings live in different places. We tend to focus more on our children, jobs, friends, and grandchildren than we do on the person with whom we shared parents, our youth, and a bathroom.

But circumstances and the aging process have a way of changing things. This is when it pays to have caring, competent children, not to mention some available retirement funds. Starting a few months ago, my sister’s older daughter started looking at her parents’ living situation as less than ideal, a situation in need of improvement.

She did the research, talked to a lot of people including qualified professionals, had long conversations with her sister and brother, and persuaded her parents to move back. “We want to be able to spend more time with you,” she told them.

This story isn’t over yet, and there is no solution to some of life’s inevitable problems that we just have to accept. But that doesn’t mean that inertia should keep a family from doing something. As of late this summer this long-married couple became residents of an assisted living facility in Massachusetts that can help them retain meaningful quality of life.

It is easier for me to write about this than it was for my niece to orchestrate the move or for my sister to accept new surroundings. One quality she retains from our youth is a degree of stubbornness, a family trait I’m told.

But here it is, several weeks later, and they no longer talk about “going home” to Florida. Home now is where they are, and when I asked last week about the food, they agreed that it’s “pretty good.”

Nothing beats living independently in your own home, but my sister and brother-in-law are pleased to be in a safe place, and we are glad we can all spend more time together. My days on a leash are long past, but she still considers me her younger big brother.