For purposes of this piece, we’re looking at those in their 70’s and 80’s who are entertaining the Big Question about moving to a Senior Community.  And aren’t quite ready.

How do you know when it’s time to move?

You look good, you feel good, you’re healthy, you’re active, you travel.  You have a few aches and pains but only a few.  You move a tiny bit slower, but only a tiny bit.  You enjoy your home and all that encompasses, your friends, your community.  You and your spouse have each other.  You manage just fine.  You don’t need to move now.

And that’s just it, you don’t need to move.

My question is why wait until you need to.

We move for a myriad of reasons and we’re excited about a lot of them – first home, new job, new love, promotion, retirement.  Even if we’re not full blown excited, we recognize that the move is important and will further our goals in life.

As we age, the reasons to move morph and our excitement often wanes.  We don’t see the move as promoting our goals but rather as an admission of our mortality.  We loathe to admit that our bodies change, our needs change, our appetites change.

Let me suggest that a move just might make life easier, a little more convenient and offer a little piece of mind.  Yes, living in a rural setting is quiet and beautiful.  It is also far from neighbors, grocery markets, shopping and restaurants.  That beautiful four-bedroom, four-bath home was perfect in the day, but holy moly, those are a lot of bathrooms to clean!  The three-story town home was the perfect empty nest, but three stories!   You get the idea.

If you are entertaining a move to a senior community because of concerns related to aging, let me suggest the best time to move is before you need to.  Move while you are healthy and hearty.  Move while your active.  Move while you travel.  Move while the decision is fully yours – as opposed to a reaction to a qualifying event (stroke, heart attack, falling.)  Most of all, move while you can still make a life in your new home.

Start with baby steps.  Visit a senior community. Visit as many as you can so you can compare. Meet the residents.  Try the food.  Stay the weekend.  Learn what the community has to offer and the costs.  You may be pleasantly surprised.

And lastly, speaking as a daughter, you will do your children a great service if you move closer to family.  Life happens, and when it does, a 30 minute, or even a two-hour car drive is much easier and less stressful than a plane ride to get to you.

When Jon and I moved to Austin from Houston, my parents came too with an open mind and without complaint.  The move was a little harder on my dad, my mom was up for the new adventure.  They both knew that at some point they would need us and their move would make it easier for us.  They were right.  That need came all too quickly.  Because of their courage and grace, Jon and I were able to care for them while making our new home, home.  We were not commuting back and forth to Houston.  My parents gave us a great gift.  I am grateful for it.

How do you broach the subject of your parents moving when they are completely resistant?

Gently and confidently, and with good information in hand.

Sometimes parents don’t recognize the need to move.  Sometimes they don’t want to move because they have a picture of what life will be like after the move, missing friends and what’s familiar.  They believe it will be expensive.  They’ll be lonely, forgotten.  Sometimes they are scared.

For the purpose of this piece, your parents’ needs require more than a Garden Community or 55+ Community offer.  They are in decline though they don’t see it and you are worried.  It is your love that drives your concern.

So you do a little leg work.  You take a look at what’s available.  Visit Independent Living, Assisted Living and Residential Care Communities.  Your research provides a good idea of what each has to offer, meals, snacks, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, activities.  Is there a hair salon on premise?  Are pets allowed?

What levels of care are offered?  Can staff administer medication?  Is there a nurse on duty? 24/7?  What is the staff to resident ratio?

Is it better that your parents are near you so you have easier access?  Is it better they are near where they live now, near friends and what they know?

Regarding pricing, is it inclusive?  Are there additional fees for additional services or is there block pricing?  Needs can escalate and accidents happen.  Does the community provide the additional care or does an outside agency?  Who sets that up?

On the subject of pricing, the numbers can be scary.  Remind your parents that they’ll never have to replace a roof or water heater, or repair an A/C or sprinkler system.  They won’t pay for yard work or utilities and their grocery bill will go down.  There is some trade off.

I know this is a lot to take on.  Just think of it from your parents’ perspective.  Think of what we ask of our parents when we ask them to make this move.

When I reflect on my life, there are moments that make me really happy and proud, and there are some that make me cringe.  There is time I wasted and there is time well spent.  There are things I wish I had done and things I regret doing.  I’m going to share some of the moments with you that had profound impact on me.

 

First, I didn’t complete college.  From the vantage point of my early 20’s, I didn’t appreciate the opportunity it would afford me in my later 20’s, 30’s, 40’s.  It never occurred to me that I would be the first cut from a job opportunity because I didn’t have a degree, that my resume would get “filed” and I’d never get the interview.  While, I’ve been able to obtain employment, and I’ve had some fabulous jobs, it may have been easier if I had completed my degree.

 

Second, I smoked.  Please don’t ever, ever do that.  I know it’s not fashionable now like it once was.  But still, please don’t ever do it.  It is an expensive habit that threatens your health and the health of those you love.  It’s stinky.  It creates wealth for people you’ll never meet, who don’t love you and won’t care if you get sick.

 

Third, I carried credit card debt.  If you can’t pay for it in full, you can’t afford it.  Rather than buy now and pay it off in two or three months, save for two or three months then buy.  You get what you want without driving debt.  The credit card companies would love for you to carry debt; that creates wealth for them.  And they are unforgiving if you are ever in a bind.

 

Fourth, I didn’t take advantage of the time I had at an early age to move my life forward.  I didn’t start really working until my mid 30’s.  If I had started in earnest in my 20’s as you have now, some of the storms life threw at me would have been easier to navigate.

 

I share this with you because I want so much for you.  I love seeing the woman you are becoming.  I’m so proud of you!  You’ve completed college, you have a great job making great money and you don’t smoke!  You are privileged to have a strong start to create and stake the future you want for yourself.

 

I know that the future seems far off in the distance, but I promise you that in the blink of an eye, you’ll be walking down the aisle, buying your first home, celebrating your first child.

 

Living with financial discipline now, saving and investing, will only make your future brighter.

 

Much love,

Leah