Choosing the best place to live as one gets older is not a simple matter. In fact, a mere outline listing the complexities inherent in this decision would extend well beyond the allowable word count for this article.
That said, let’s look at 3 of the most frequently asked questions and some possible answers to each.
Question 1: Where will I live?
The challenge with this question is that one additional word usually falls at the end of it. That word is “if.”
Where will I live if my health declines?
Where will I live if my spouse dies before I do?
Where will I live if I can no longer take care of my home?
Where will I live if I can’t drive?
Without a crystal ball, no one can know for sure what their future will hold. Instead of talking about it, most people just push aside the thoughts of potentially needing to relocate to a more appropriate living arrangement. While addressing the questions outright may cause anxiety or uncomfortable conversations, not dealing with them creates even more internal stress and anxiety. It is this stress and anxiety, according to many studies, that actually accelerates unhealthy aging and disease processes.
The answer: Plan ahead and create a game plan for the “what ifs” of life. Address the questions, concerns, fears, and uncertainties head on. Talk with your family and meet with your financial advisor. Research both independent and supportive housing options. Be proactive rather than reactive so you can focus your attention on living more fully today instead of worrying about the future.
Question 2: When is the best time to move?
There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question either. The short answer is simply: Before you ‘need’ to. You see, too many people are relocating reactively instead of proactively. They choose not to deal with the questions of life mentioned above in the first part of the article. Instead, they wait until they (and their home) are in poor condition and they move out of necessity instead of by choice.
Studies show that people who move involuntarily have significantly increased levels of depression and show steeper declines in physical health than do those who relocate voluntarily. It may make sense to consider market conditions and housing availability in your decision about when to move, however, your health and perceived future healthcare needs should be the highest priority.
The answer: Be proactive and makes changes earlier than later. If you live in a two story home, consider moving to a one story before you can no longer manage the steps. Married couples might consider downsizing together instead of leaving the task for their widow to handle alone. Thinking down the road and if finances will allow, consider the life-care community option while you are still healthy enough to qualify.
Question 3: How will I physically manage a move?
After decades of living in the same home, many people have collected more than they need. Closets are overstuffed, cabinets are packed, and hutches contain sentimental sets of family heirloom china (which adult children have no interest in). When you add garages, shop buildings, storage containers, junk drawers, and attics to the mix, it can all seem insurmountable.
This overwhelm is largely due to 2 things:
1) False assumptions about the difficulty of liquidating these items, and
2) the task of physically and/or emotionally parting with years of accumulation.
The answer: Hire professionals to simplify the process. Too many people either try to manage the liquidation and move process themselves or ask family to do it. With adult children spread across the country, working full time jobs, or dealing with their own challenges, arranging for help is not always easy.
Furthermore, adult children may not the best resource due to their own emotional stake in the accumulation of household items, thus proving ineffective at supporting downsizing efforts. Conversely, adult children may be completely detached, rushed, or pushy, making sorting and deciding what to keep or leave behind an arduous and emotionally painful task.
While it may cost you a little extra, hiring a professional move manager ensures you remain in the driver’s seat concerning decision-making. It also guarantees you will have an experienced guide for navigating relocation logistics and hands-on physical support for downsizing and relocation-related tasks. People usually say the peace of mind they receive from their move manager was worth far more than the fee paid for the service. They also remark that the fee was much less than they expected to pay.
(Courtesy of OKC Mature Moves...)