I recently stopped by to talk with my good friend, mentor, and business partner- Trent Pierce. As we were catching up on life he said, “Oh, by the way, I heard something from a guy the other day and it made me think about you. I’ve been meaning to tell you what he said.” Of course, I couldn’t wait to hear was so great that it made him think of me.
It turns out that another friend of his, John, recently retired after a career in education as a school principal. Following John’s retirement he and his wife decided to sell their house and move 1 ½ hours south to enjoy retirement in closer proximity to their grown children and grandchildren.
Trent told me how John began describing his and his wife’s experience of moving. John talked about the housing search, the de-cluttering process, and leaving old friends. Then he said, “You know what I realized, Trent? This move is going to be good for us.” He went on to say how the move has taught him and his wife to keep an open mind to new adventures in life and how to adapt to change. It has caused them to have to purge a lot of “stuff” they really don’t need.
Then he said something that I believe is brilliant, particularly in the context of how it could eventually help the senior living industry. He said, “Trent, through this experience I have come to believe that everyone should move every ten years.”
You see, John has a mother who currently lives in an assisted living facility. He understands how difficult it is, emotionally and otherwise, for older adults like his mother to move during the later stages of life, particularly after living in the same home for so many years.
“If we all moved every ten years it would become a part of what we do,” said John. “We would become more accustomed to change; to accepting new environments. And we wouldn’t have so much clutter to deal with one day. For those who reach the point in life where it is not feasible to live at the home any longer the idea of moving won’t be some big, dramatic thing. It’s just another move.”
I believe John is exactly right. In fact, we experienced this with my own grandmother, albeit somewhat inadvertently. Following my grandfather’s passing in the mid-nineties she moved out of the home they lived in for over 30 years and into a condo that was closer to her sister, who lived about a half hour away. Then, after living for there for about ten years she decided to move again, this time about five hours east, to live in an apartment near her daughter (my mother). After experiencing a couple of bad falls she and my mother both felt that she would be better served in an assisted living facility. Other than a little bit of back and forth there was virtually no resistance from my grandmother. Looking back I believe this is because she had already moved twice within the previous 15 years. She lived in the facility for about two years and had a mostly great experience before falling ill and eventually passing away at the age of ninety-two.
I felt compelled to write about John’s comments because I think they are incredibly insightful. For many of us it is natural to resist change and to hold on to the past. For those in the later stages of life these urges are even stronger, particularly when faced with moving to an assisted living community, because there is always the perception of giving up independence. Even those who do not require assisted living are often reluctant to move to a retirement community for the same reasons. Yet, if we can train ourselves in the earlier years to adapt to moving, and in the process reduce the amount of clutter that tends to accumulate over time, then we may all be slightly less resistant to eventually making a move that could be in the best interest of ourselves and our families.
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