I’ve been working with seniors who are searching for the right senior living community for over 30 years and I’ve heard the same concerns over and over again. It makes perfect sense to me that the thought of moving to a senior living community can be scary to most people. It is a HUGE step to take! And even though it may be a logical next step, that doesn’t make it any easier.
Hopefully, I can provide some information that will ease some of your concerns. At the very least, you may come away with the knowledge that you are not alone.
Downsizing – It doesn’t take very long to collect a large amount of “stuff” over time. Many seniors have remained in their current home for 10, 20, even 30 years before deciding to move to a senior living community. Chances are, your current home is larger than the accommodations you are considering to move to. “What should I do with all my stuff?” is a question I hear over and over again from potential new residents. Here are a few ideas to help lighten the load:
- Donate items that are still usable to non-profit organizations who will see that other people in need receive your unwanted items.
- Now may be the time to distribute items earmarked for certain family members or friends. Pass on family heirlooms or items to be inherited NOW.
- Have a series of yard sales to find new homes for some of your collected items as well as make a bit of money.
Moving - Picking up and moving at anytime in your life is at least a little bit scary but planning ahead can help ease a lot of the anxiety connected to moving households. If you can afford it, hiring professional movers can make a move so much easier and less stressful. The senior community will most likely have a few movers to suggest. Your new community will have suggestions based on past experiences and the satisfaction of other residents that have moved into their community. Hiring a professional moving company can mean no packing up, moving or unpacking for you depending on what services you purchase. Creating a “Go To” can also help ease some worries associated with moving. Keep a tote bag handy to hold all the items you don’t want to misplace during your move such as your cell phone, TV remotes, check book, important addresses and a roll of toilet paper just to name a few. Knowing the location of these types of items can help create a much more pleasant initial 24 hours in your new home.
Change in Lifestyle/Friends & Family - I’m sure that your current life is filled with family and friends or at the very least, familiar faces. Leaving your current acquaintances behind is often a concern when considering moving to a senior community. The first point is this, why do you think you would have to give them up? Moving to a senior living community does not mean you will have less contact with family, friends and acquaintances. In fact, you may have more time for those people close to you. In addition, you will have a beautiful, new apartment and dining venue to share with them! As a side note, if you are currently working part time or volunteering, these activities can and SHOULD continue when you join a senior living community. A senior community will not tie you down any more than any other living situation, in fact, it is quite probable that you will enjoy many more freedoms when you have less home maintenance on you plate.
Affordability - Finances are probably the biggest concern for individuals considering a move to a senior living community. My suggestion here is to make a list of all your current expenses living in your own private residence. Make sure to include you mortgage or rent, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and upkeep including both the interior and exterior of your current home. If you own your home or condo, include and upcoming major projects such as painting or a new roof. Utilities including heat, electric, cable, Wi-Fi and water should also be noted as some or all of these may be included in you monthly lease when living in a senior living community. Include any costs associated with your automobile, if you still own one, including fuel, insurance, loan payment and maintenance. Many communities offer transportation to groceries and medical appointments as well as cultural events in the area. You may spend less on entertainment and eating out once you settle into a new senior community as most of them offer a daily calendar of events and multiple venues for your meals. Once you have completed your current list of expenses, add them up and compare the total to the cost of living in the senior living community you are considering. You may be surprised at how much money you are saving! If the costs are similar……how much value do you give to the piece of mind a maintenance free life will provide?
I hope that some of these ideas will address any concerns you may have regarding moving to a senior living community. The internet is a great resource for additional information regarding downsizing, moving and the affordability of senior living communities. Also, check out our “Decision Guide” featured here on our website.