Trying to define the “right time” to move as an older adult can be like herding cats: any expectations of organized decision-making descend quickly into chaos. Practical and emotional considerations present themselves as barriers to clear thinking and action, and before you know it, you don’t know what to do.
What to consider:
• Aging in place. Are you able to stay in your current home with outside help or structural modifications? Aging in place is the preferred choice of most Americans, and new technologies and specialized services can help make this a reality for some. Medical and non-medical needs can sometimes be met at home, through unpaid (usually family) caregivers or hired caregivers. Considerations include family stress level and cost.
• Property maintenance. Are you able to maintain your home? Do you want to? Consider whether or not the level of maintenance is actually interfering with your independence. Have things changed in the past five years? Are you still enjoying where you live, or simply remaining out of inertia or fear of change?
• Safety. Can you navigate with confidence? Are medications taken as prescribed, or are doses skipped due to confusion or forgetfulness? Mismanagement of medication(s) is a common concern. Evaluate overall health, nutrition, eyesight, and risk of falls when considering safety.
• Social connections. Isolation and boredom diminish our life experience, and are especially prevalent in the lives of many elderly Americans. For some, moving to a senior community increases social interaction and quality of life.
No one wants to cede control of their own lives to another; however, the best way to maintain autonomy is to make our own difficult decisions while we can.
This includes investigating housing options, reviewing finances, and having frank discussions with family sooner rather than later (or worse, never). Allowing ourselves to experience the emotions of loss, anger, and fear without letting them control our lives is a challenge.
Adapting to, rather than denying, the realities of aging can bring to light opportunities for living the best lives we know how, wherever that may be.
• Josephine Levy is a certified senior adviser and owner of New Horizons Senior Move Management. Reach her at (480) 532-1247 or firstname.lastname@example.org.