With the holidays upon us, a lot of people are travelling–going home to see family and loved ones. It’s a time where we all enjoy long-time traditions like putting up decorations, baking those cookies your grandmother used to make, and finding that perfect gift to put under the tree.
Making the move
For seniors who are considering their options for housing as they age, it is common to struggle with the idea of moving out of the home they have lived in for so long and created so many happy memories in; it’s why many seniors plan to age in place. But this natural resistance to change (especially among older people) is also one the reasons a friend of mine touts the rather radical idea that people should move every ten years. It’s a bold theory, but I think he has a strong case. A few of the reasons why…
Whenever you move, it is a natural time to purge possessions that you no longer need or want. Make a few Goodwill runs and you are all set. However, if you haven’t moved (or decluttered) in decades, it is likely there is a lot to “stuff” to go through, which can feel very overwhelming to seniors.
House sale and hunt
Once you declutter, it is time to put your house on the market and start looking for your new home. While it may be a challenge to keep your house tidy in case you have a potential buyer come by with little notice, looking for a new home can be really exciting. And if you move every decade, you can find the perfect house to meet your current space and layout needs, depending on where you are in life. For seniors, maybe you can downsize to a one-level layout; plus you no longer have to worry about school districts or having a yard for a swingset!
Remember the childhood song that went, “Make new friends, but keep the old…”? Moving, whether it be across town or across the country, will allow you to meet new people. If you have not moved in many years, the idea of leaving old friends and neighbors behind can be highly emotional. But for seniors making the move to an independent living/55 and over community, or to a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), you will frequently discover that being surrounded by people at a similar stage in life means you instantly have things in common like shared hobbies or similar life experiences. It is a recipe for instant chemistry with potential new friends.
Don’t underestimate how exciting a move to a new home or new town can be. Channel your pioneering spirit when you strike out on this new adventure. Change can be invigorating as you explore a new neighborhood or town, finding the great restaurants and exploring new parks, shops, and museums. When you move frequently, you will acclimate to your new surroundings more quickly than if you have lived in the same house and town for nearly half a century.
Making the case for moving
How long have you lived in your current house? Five years? Fifteen? Forty? While leaving behind the friends and memories made in your home can be tough, there are benefits to moving out of your home while the decision is yours to make. Too often for seniors, an injury or illness necessitates a move to an assisted living or nursing care facility. The result? The senior does not have time to mentally adapt to the dramatic change of leaving their beloved long-time home, and their family is left to deal with the decluttering and sale of the property. It can be extremely stressful for everyone involved.
But by relocating every ten years, you become a pro of sorts, more accustomed to change and adaptable to new environments. Should you require a move to a care facility as you age, it simply won’t be as big of a deal. Plus, should you opt to move to a community that offers progressive care, like a CCRC, it will mean that you are empowering yourself, making conscious choices about where you will grow old, instead of having that decision made for you during a health crisis.
So, consider my friend’s advice about moving every decade. Get rid of that clutter that inevitably accumulates over time, find a home that best meets your current needs, and most important, teach yourself to adapt to change so that if and when the time comes that you must move, it will be easier on you and your family. Once you are in your new home, you will find that those beloved holiday traditions don’t disappear just because you have a new address; they will move with you and evolve into cherished new memories.
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