After the sizzling summer most of the country has experienced, it’s hard to believe that we’ll soon be complaining about how cold it is, how much snow we have to shovel and how treacherous those ice-glazed sidewalks can be. With autumn fast approaching, now is a good time for seniors and their families to give some thought to future living arrangements. Is home becoming too much to handle? Are safety and the everyday demands of upkeep and yard work becoming issues? Is selling the house and relocating to a retirement community beginning to look like a smart move?
Having counseled many seniors and their adult children who are exploring Bethany Village as an option, I can share with you three guiding principles for families making this very important life decision:
· Don’t wait until you are in the midst of a crisis to start looking at retirement communities. You won’t have the time, clarity and peace of mind needed to make an informed decision. It’s much better to start exploring before you feel the pressing need to act. Just because you are investigating choices doesn’t mean a move is immanent; it simply means you are investing some time and thought in deciding the next step in living arrangements.
· Put your feelings on the table. Adult children often approach talking to their parents about selling the house with some trepidation. It can be difficult conversation wrought with emotion. Sometimes, however, an older person may have already been thinking about making the move and welcomes some assistance in sorting out feelings and coming up with a strategy. Sit down together and make a pros and cons list. What are the benefits vs. drawbacks – financial, social, lifestyle, health, safety and mobility – of selling the house and moving to a retirement community? Visit some retirement communities to learn more about amenities and costs. Keep an open mind and be honest about your fears and concerns.
· Be realistic about selling your house. There’s no denying that the economy has been rough on real estate sales. Sometimes, older people may resist selling in today’s depressed market, choosing instead to “wait until things get better” so they don’t lose a penny of the equity they always planned to leave to their children. Recently, an adult child visiting Bethany Village told me that she explained to her parents that waiting to sell was not their only option. If they really wanted to give her a meaningful gift, they could give it to her right now by moving into a place where she had the comfort of knowing every day that they were safe, active and relieved of the burden of maintaining a house.
Ultimately, you may conclude that staying put is the best choice, at least for the time being. Having fully explored the options, however, means that everyone involved in the decision-making process will be that much ahead of the game if and when moving into a retirement community starts looking like the next logical step in safe and happy senior living.
What is your main concern about moving to a retirement community? Please make a comment below.