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Moving is part of many older adults’ retirement game plan. Your home is probably your single greatest asset, and downsizing to a smaller place can generate a great deal of cash for your future needs, while simplifying your life. There are other reasons why relocating might be a smart move. Perhaps your house has become too large, and you find yourself with rooms you never use or even go into. Maintenance and upkeep may be too much (or too expensive) to handle. Perhaps you are simply too far away from family and friends, or you feel too alone.

 

Whatever the reason, if there’s a move on your horizon, you have chores to do, and choices to make.

Addressing Senior Housing Options

Make it a smooth move

Chances are you’ve spent many years in the home you’ll be leaving, and packing up and moving out can seem overwhelming, both physically and emotionally.

 

Here are some ways you can reduce the stress and strain:

  1. Get a jump on it – start early, and don’t rush. Going one room at a time, take time to evaluate each item. The chore is a lot less daunting when you aren’t rushed.
  2. Stick to two piles – decide ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on everything. Do not be tempted to make a ‘maybe, if there’s enough room’ category, because then you will end up carting most of your stuff to the new place, which defeats the whole purpose.
  3. Save the tough rooms for last – start with something simple, like a coat closet or guest room, and work your way up to the attic, basement, garage and kitchen. These storage spaces naturally have the most clutter, and you’ll need to perfect your ‘yes or no’ skills before tackling them.
  4. Remove rooms – downsizing may mean you’ll no longer have a guest bedroom, office or garage. Consider donating the contents of those rooms, or sell valuable items on consignment or at a yard sale.
  5. Make the internet your friend – Craigslist, Ebay, and letgo make it easy to sell valuable items, so long as they’re bargain priced. If you prefer, you can hire estate sale companies to evaluate, price, advertise and run the sale for you.
  6. Gift your treasures – now’s the perfect time to give the kids and grandkids the silver, china, grandpa’s humidor and other precious or valuable items you’ve been planning to leave them.

 

Experts expect more than 40% of Americans ages 50 to 64 will be moving within the next few years, so it’s no surprise that a new industry has been created specializing in helping older adults downsize and move.  The National Association of Senior Move Managers, www.masmm.org, can help you find a professional who’ll simplify the transition for you.

Thinking of snowbirding?

For many, a major benefit of downsizing to a condo, apartment or smaller home is the freedom (and the cash) to spend part of each year in another climate. Among the most popular destinations for snowbirds are Florida (which leads the list), Nevada, Texas, California and Arizona.

 

There are many advantages to snowbirding:

  • Having an upscale lifestyle
  • A chance to enjoy two homes and two climates
  • Making new friends and another social network
  • Not having to stay in one place all year round
  • No snow to shovel!

 

Warmth-seeking visitors start by spending part of the ‘season’ from November through April as renters. Many return to the same property year after year, while other snowbirds like to experience a different locale each winter.

 

If you’re planning to snowbird, be sure your northern home is ready to withstand your months-long absence.  For a one family house, that means keeping the heat high enough so pipes don’t freeze (or turning the water off entirely). You might want to install timers inside and solar exterior lighting, and contract with a snow-removal company. You will need to deal with your mail – either forward it, or arrange to pay bills online. And it’s always a good idea to have a friend, family member, or house-watcher check on things regularly.

Deciding where – and how – to live

Older adults may daydream of spending time in a warm and sunny place, but few are tempted to make the move permanent. In fact, more than 75% of seniors would actually prefer to stay in their current home and community, according to a new AARP survey. But less than half of them think that will be possible. Luckily, Baby Boomers have quite a variety of options for senior living, ranging from full independence to continuing care.

 

Here are a few popular choices:

Aging in place – seniors remain in their current home, modifying it to accommodate any health or mobility issues, and arranging for home health care aides when needed. The cost is relatively low, and seniors can retain independence, though they may have to rely more on family and friends.

 

55+ community – These are age-restricted developments that cater to older adults. Most offer low-maintenance homes, condos, townhouses or apartments, to own or rent, depending on the community. Many are gated, offering security, clubhouses, organized activities, and other shared amenities. This option relieves residents of many home maintenance chores, and is designed for aging in place, with access to recreation and like-minded neighbors.

 

Assisted living – For people who require extra help with daily living tasks, like cooking, doing laundry, and bathing, but not necessarily medical care. Residents may have a private or semi-private bedroom with bathroom, but all other areas are shared. While these facilities are regulated as to the level of care they provide, the amenities can vary widely. Usually meals, housekeeping, laundry, and transportation to doctors is included. But some may also offer entertainment, recreational activities, exercise rooms, onsite beauty salons and more.  Costs can be high, and can vary depending on the level of care and residents’ living space.

 

Nursing home – a skilled nursing facility is for those who require round-the-clock supervised care. Residents may have debilitating physical or mental illnesses, and are unable to care for themselves. A doctor oversees each resident, and medical professionals are usually on premises at all times. Facilities are licensed and regulated, and costs are high.

 

Memory care facility –usually part of a nursing home, this facility cares for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It offers more supervision, larger, specially trained staff, and security to keep residents from wandering away without supervision.

 

Hospice – rather than a facility, hospice is a level of care provided to the terminally ill. Services may be given in a nursing home or at home, and they focus on making the person as comfortable as possible. In addition to pain management and medical care, hospice gives patients emotional and spiritual support.

 

Continuing – care retirement community– offers an all-in-one approach, which includes independent housing options, assisted living facilities and nursing homes, all in the same community. Residents enjoy activities and amenities, and are able to transition from one type of living to the next level of care, as needed, without leaving their social network. CCRCs are good options for people who don’t want the responsibilities of home ownership anymore, and have no desire to move again in future. They also offer couples who may need differing levels of care a way to remain living near each other. CCRCs are the most expensive of all long-term care options, with substantial entry fees plus monthly fees that will increase with higher levels of care.

Which option is right for you?

Obviously, changing where you live is a major event. As you evaluate your options, follow this checklist:

  • Research each of the choices available to you, and understand the pros and cons of each.
  • Consider the kind of day-to-day living experience you’d prefer, and the level of social activity you want.
  • Talk to a financial expert to see whether you can afford the various options. Find one who has expertise on Medicare/Medicaid, pensions and elder finances.
  • Visit the doctor to explore any health or mobility issues that need to be considered.
  • Actually go the nursing home, assisted living facility, or retirement community you’re thinking of moving to. Talk to residents, take a tour, look  in at activities, and maybe even stay for lunch.

Help with housing and more

Aging in Place is an organization dedicated to helping seniors make their homes more accommodating. It offers assistance with staying mobile, maintaining your lifestyle, finances, finding in-home caregivers and more.  These are some of the resources it recommends to help older adults live independently:

 

National Council on Aging – works with nonprofits, businesses and the government to provide programs and services that support healthy aging and financial security. Link Here.

 

AARP – helps those 50 and older improve their lives, through healthy living, discounts, and senior-centric news. Their affiliated charity assists low-income seniors with nutrition, affordable housing, and jobs. Link Here.

 

Area Agencies on Aging – is a network of over 620 organizations that provides services on a local level, including meal programs, respite care and caregiver training, insurance counseling, and case management services. Link Here.

 

Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly – provides and coordinates medical and personal care, rehabilitation, medications, and transportation. Seniors must meet certain qualifications and live in one of the 230 PACE service areas. Phone: 1-800-MEDICARE, 1-877-486-2048. Link Here.

 

Eldercare Locator – a free national service of the US Administration on Aging (AoA) helps find local services including legal and financial support, caregivers, home repair and modification, and more. Phone: 1-800-677-1116. Link Here.

 

Guide to Long-Term Care for Veterans – supports seniors enrolled in the VHA health care system.  It provides information on home- and community-based residential care programs available to veterans. Link Here.

 

Explore other resources available to older adults at the Aging in Place website