Obstacles to Moving
One of the biggest obstacles that keeps people from exploring a senior community is the belief that there are too many sacrifices to be made - freedom, independence, living space - to name a few. The reality is that today’s senior communities can provide gracious living, security, an active way of life along with many other wonderful benefits that can enhance an older adult’s independence. And retirement communities can be surprisingly affordable! If your loved one is reluctant to explore a senior community, consider these ideas when discussing their concerns.
The Number 1 Concern: Independence
Seniors believe that by moving from home they will be giving up their independence.
Most seniors will say they want to stay in their own homes rather than make a move. But one thing we’ve learned after talking with thousands of older adults and their families is that most people don’t realize how much they have given up to stay put.
When they pause to reflect, however, they often tell us their life has been altered in many ways. A woman finally admits that she gave up singing in her church choir because they practiced during the evening and she no longer drove at night. Or someone else shares she can no longer play bridge because the group disbanded since one of the players has been ill for a long time. If your world usually consists of the rooms in your home, if your social life is limited to when others can visit, when you can only participate in activities if someone else is willing to take you along, your independence is fairly limited
Benefits of a Senior Community
One of the greatest benefits of a senior community is that a move actually helps many people become more independent by giving them numerous opportunities to engage in all that life has to offer; activities to keep them physically fit, socially engaged and their minds sharp. That weekly card game can still be held because there is always a pick-up player ready to get involved. Now that choir practice is held at the community, transportation is no longer an issue.
Seniors can enjoy their independence to the fullest within a retirement community setting, because there are more things readily accessible to them. And they can choose when they want to engage, without depending on someone else, a much truer measure of independence than the address where one lives.
Has your loved one given up something important because they remain at home?
Another Concern: Actually Moving
“Selling the house and actually moving seems overwhelming to us."
The thought of packing up a household and moving overwhelms people at any age. Of course, the older we get the more stuff that has found its way into the basement and back bedroom. And when someone has lived in a home for 30 or 40 years, there are other things that can make a move difficult. There’s the favorite chair, the special antiques and the cherished memories. But none of those comforts have to stay behind; they can all come with you.
Ways to Downsize
Offering your possessions to family when you can tell the stories that are associated with them can be enjoyable for everyone. It’s a time when generations can come closer, especially grandchildren. Likewise, donating usable items that you no longer need, and no family member really wants, offers a gift that can make a difference in a person’s life. Women’s shelters, veteran’s groups, organizations that help those released from prison can take what you no longer need and give it to someone who can use it to start a new chapter in life. And there are professionals who specialize in helping seniors downsize who can make the whole process more manageable.
Beware the Crisis
All too often, a move happens because of a health crisis. Then the need to downsize belongings and sell the home can be even more stressful as you have more responsibility to care for a loved one.
While selling a house requires work and can be an emotional experience, life is a series of transitions. When a family takes this on, can do it on their own terms and are not forced by circumstances, most of the time will be spent looking forward to a new living situation and all that will be gained.
Another Concern: Affordability
Senior Communities are too expensive. “I live in my house for free.”
Sometimes people forget that even if the mortgage is paid off, there are significant costs associated with home ownership. No one really lives in a house for free. There are three kinds of expenses to consider if you are weighing the financial pros and cons of staying in your home. First, the actual costs of living there; second, costs that may be incurred in order to stay there; and third, the intangible costs of staying. The effects of aging are different for each of us. We all know of folks in their 90s living in their home, and others as young as 70 for whom living alone is not desirable.
Ongoing costs. Every month there are utility bills, there’s the homeowners insurance and then add property taxes to name a few ongoing expenses.
Appliances age, plumbing can malfunction and the roof or the furnace could need replacement. So while you may have burned the mortgage, there are expenses with owning a home that have to be accounted for. Standard advice is for homeowners to budget a monthly amount to cover unexpected repairs, general maintenance and even purchased services like lawn care, snow removal, etc. Even if many big-ticket repairs on the home are up-to-date, it is recommended that you still set aside money for repairs and maintenance.
Costs to help you stay in your home should also be considered. Physical modifications to make a home more accommodating are not all that expensive, such as grab bars in the bathroom or a shower chair. Obviously making a two-story home wheelchair-friendly is an entirely different situation. And if you need any in-home supportive services such as housekeeping help or aide visits to assist with bathing and dressing, there is a cost. In-home skilled nursing is of course the most expensive. According to the 2013 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the national average cost for in-home health aide services for elder care is $19 an hour. Depending on how many hours of help you need on a daily basis, this can add up very quickly.
The intangible costs of staying. For some seniors, it may not just be a matter of money but of time. If you have good health and do not need any supportive services, what would you do with your time if you no longer had to manage the house or worry about it? Renting for many means freedom to lock the door and travel for weeks at a time to visit the grandkids or find warmer weather. For others it means having the freedom to embrace activities you have always wanted to try. The advantage of making the move when you have the health to enjoy the lifestyle is that if things change, your address doesn’t.In general, it is often not an issue of money that triggers most moves. It is quality of life issues, health related and not, that get people thinking.
There are affordable options in retirement living! If you do your research and look for value you will find many alternatives. Have you done a side-by-side comparison of the cost of staying at home VS moving to a senior community? Use this cost comparison worksheet to take a clear view of your situation.
At Laureate Group communities, your apartment and your selected services are available for a monthly charge. There is no endowment fee to deplete lifelong savings.
An Often Unspoken Concern: Fitting In
Will I fit in?
The decision to move into a senior community can be a difficult one. It is hard to move away from what is familiar. We all get comfortable and feel safe in a home we have lived in for years. And once the decision has been made to make the move to a senior community it’s natural that there will be some concerns — fear of the unknown, fear of not liking the community, and maybe fear of not fitting it.
The Welcome Mat is Out
Every Laureate Group community has designed not only a welcome plan, but a transition plan for each new resident. We understand that this is much more than just a change of address. A move to a senior community is a new beginning.
Some of our communities offer an ambassador program, matching current residents to each new resident to show them around, join them for meals, introduce them to others and take the time to make the transition feel comfortable. They all made the transition themselves, so who better to be helpful and available? We find that on average, new residents feel settled in within about three months.
Come to live in a senior living community and if you no longer drive, hop on the community’s bus and go shopping. On-site physician visits mean you can get to the doctor without arranging for family to drive you. Consider how active one’s social life can be once again because the classes, group exercise sessions, card clubs, and socials are held within walking distance and right inside the community. Do what sounds like fun, or stay at home in your private apartment and read that great novel. You decide.
There is another benefit to a senior living community that many families don’t think about at first. So many families are happy to help Mom or Dad by checking up on them, making meals, helping with the bills and house. But what happens after a loved one moves in to a senior community is a common revelation that they now can spend their time actually visiting, sharing their lives and making new memories together. Instead of paying the bills, they take in a Brewers game. The change in quality of life can be impactful. We witness positive transitions like these all the time.