The transition to senior living doesn’t happen immediately. You have to research senior living, find out what’s available, understand the fees, and budget accordingly. Years ago, when we moved my father-in-law to senior living, we reserved a unit for ourselves.
“If you plan to live here within the next 10 years or more, you need to make a reservation now,” the marketing manager explained. “Move when you’re able to take advantage of what we have to offer.” We took his advice and paid a $1,000 deposit, which was put in a special account and earns interest.
When is it time to move to senior living? That’s the question we, and perhaps you, keep asking. Each person is different and has different reasons for moving. After weeks of thought, we identified the four top things that will determine when we move. These factors may apply to you.
Family responsibility is at the top of our list. After our daughter and former son-in-law were killed in separate car crashes, we were appointed as our grandchidren’s legal guardians. Our grandchildren are fraternal twins and moved in with us when they were 15 years old. Both graduated from high school with honors and are incoming college sophomores today.
Though we are no longer their guardians, the twins still live with us, and need a place to come home to at holiday time and in the summer. We won’t move until they graduate from college and graduate school.
Health is the second factor on our list and could easily become the first. Like many older adults, my husband and I have health problems and take prescribed medication. Our health is generally good. But health can change quickly if one of us has a heart attack, stroke, or is diagnosed with chronic illness. As long as we are in good health we will stay in our home.
Personal safety is another factor. Virginia McDaniel, MS writes about this issue in her “Living Well” magazine article, “Moving to Senior Housing, When and Why.” According to McDaniel, unsafe driving is one of the main reasons seniors move. Driving may become a burden instead of a pleasure. “One may lose the ability to drive due to the slowing down of reflexes or due to vision problems,” she writes.
Older adults may leave stove burners on or forget to lock up for the night. My husband and I monitor each other and, fortunately, we’re still safe people.
Unit availability is the fourth factor on our list and it changes constantly. Management sends us letters regularly, telling us which units are available and their monthly cost. Two-bedroom units are scarce because most retirees want them. We don’t want to settle for a one-bedroom unit because we think we’ll feel like we’re living in a cracker box.
So we continue to live in our house, enjoy the garden, make necessary repairs, and keep our home market ready. We’ve already started to “lighten the load.” According to the Senior Seasons website, giving things to relatives and friends who appreciate them is rewarding. I gave my beloved piano to my daughter, and she loves it.
Many factors determine when you move. What are your factors? Which are the most important? Thinking about this now can simply your life and ease the transition to senior housing. In the meantime, enjoy your home, your neighborhood and, most of all, your life.
Copyright 2011 by Harriet Hodgson
Harriet Hodgson has been an independent journalist for 30+ years. Her book, Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from Amazon.
Her grief resources, Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life, a companion journal, and The Spiritual Woman: Quotes to Refresh and Sustain Your Soul, are available from Centering Corporation and Amazon. Happy Again! (Harriet’s latest grief resource) is also being published by Centering and is in productionnow.
Harriet has two other new books, 101 Affirmations to Ease Your Grief Journey, available from Amazon, and Real Meals on 18 Wheels: A Guide for Healthy Living, Kathryn Clements, RD, co-author and available from Amazon soon. Please visit her website, click on the blog, and share your thoughts with this busy author and grandmother.
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