When is the right time to move?
by Sharon Simpson
When is the right time to move? This is a question that comes up at our seniors’ campus of care nearly every day. People who are in their 80’s and 90’s are wondering if and when they should make a move to an Independent Living apartment, an Assisted Living apartment or a Life Lease.
Many people move at the time of a crisis. Others plan for it and move before something happens. Some move because their children advise it – or to move closer to supportive children. In all cases, it’s a big transition with much emotional and physical energy expended to make it happen.
Here are some of the factors that you’ll have to take into account when you think about moving to a seniors’ retirement community:
When you move, you may feel the impact of your move in your monthly expenses or your capital expenses. The first step in deciding whether or not you will move is to assess your current financial situation and compare it with the costs of the seniors’ community to which you will move. Researching the prices and services is the key at the beginning of your decision-making process. Take time to contact retirement communities to get a realistic idea of what it will cost you monthly to live within that environment.
Consider the additional expenses you may incur if your physical needs require more support. If you receive health-care support, you will pay an hourly or daily rate that is based upon last year’s taxable income for care in your home. You may need equipment that will help you to remain mobile, such as a cane, walker or wheelchair. You may need prescriptions to help you with health concerns.
Energy for a Move
Looking at every object you own and making a decision about it is exhausting. If you think you’ll be moving to another home within a 12 month period, you can start now to look at each of your possessions and decide between keep, give away or throw out. You may need the support of a loved one or friend to go through your home.
A move to a new home, especially to a seniors’ home, is emotionally draining. Not only are you moving your things, you are facing the reality that you are aging and can no longer do all that you were used to doing. Along with the mental work of deciding about your possessions, you have the emotional work of recognizing you no longer need items due to no longer pursuing certain activities or hobbies. You may give up your sewing machine or your workshop tools. You may be surprised that giving away your rake and hoe brings you to tears.
Is your health failing? Are you wondering if you can do the things you used to do – even the mundane tasks like taking out the garbage? Not only is your health a factor in the decision to move – your spouse’s health may determine a move earlier than you expected. It may also slow your move process if your spouse is living with dementia and would have a difficult time adjusting to a new location. There are couples who live at our community of care where one of them does not need the supports that we offer. They moved early to keep their vow to their spouse, “in sickness and in health”.
Your Social Life
Are you able to see people as often as you like? Are you concerned about not driving? What would your life look like if you weren’t able to drive? Would you lose your social life? Many seniors move into a retirement community in order to lessen the impact of social isolation and loneliness. Social isolation can be as negative to long-term health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day! Moving when you have the energy to meet new people, and get involved in activities is a great decision.
When you finally decide you are ready to move – and you feel you need to move, it is nearly unbearable to find out that there is a waitlist for the community that you’ve ascertained is your next home. Find out now if there is a waitlist and if so, how do you get on that list? If there is a cost to joining the waitlist, will that cost be worth it for you to move in a timely way?
What the Experts Say
The experts always say that moving when you don’t need to move is better than moving in the chaos of a crisis. They say that if you can make the choices, you will accept them more readily. As humans, we like to be in control of as much of our lives as possible. By making a move earlier than later, you will give yourself the best chance to settle in, make friends, learn about the new community and enjoy your new home without the complications of a medical emergency. If you are making the decisions about your move, you will have the opportunity to select the retirement community of your choice instead of settling for what is available.
What your Kids Say
For many seniors, their children are the best sounding board for a move. Your kids can give you a sense of how much support they will offer and how they plan to support you in your new home. Your kids can give you the courage to make the move, help you to decide on what to do with your possessions and encourage you in your new home once you’ve made the move.
You need help or are afraid of falling
If you need help with medications or preparing food, it may be time to move. Your loved ones may be able to help you, but it can be taxing on those around you to support you in this way. There are Assisted Living homes that are apartment suites where you also receive support from nurses and care aides. They have a call-bell system that gives you peace of mind if you were to fall or needed emergency assistance.
Your friends are moving to retirement communities
When we opened our most recent retirement apartment building, I would talk to Condominium strata groups and invite all the elderly seniors to move in together. They had spent the last 25 years together and grown to love each other. They didn’t want to move because they loved the people in their condo. If you have an opportunity to move where your friends are living, do it! You will have such a good time enjoying daily connection with the people with whom you lived life.
It is complicated to plan your move to a retirement community – and it can be messy no matter how well you plan. If you are thinking of a move, take one of these ten areas and ask yourself how life would be more supported and safer if you were to explore the possibilities of a move. The most common thing that we hear from seniors who move into Independent Living apartment suites is that it’s the best decision they ever made and they wished they would have done it sooner.
Sharon Simpson is on staff at Menno Home in Abbotsford, BC.