Are you struggling with that elephant in the room? It’s there and hard to avoid. Either you or someone you know is probably wondering what their address will read in the near future. So often couples differ in their desire to make a change and the thought of moving seems overwhelming! You are not alone. I speak all over the 4-county community and feel that same angst from the folks who attend my seminars.
“I know it is time to make a change. We love our home and know our neighborhood. It’s not the same, as many young families are moving in and we sense a move would be beneficial. It’s just hard to think about moving to somewhere new after living in our homes for the last 30+ years! Do we move to a condominium, small single family ranch or a senior apartment or community? What are we going to do with all of the treasures we have accumulated? Our kids don’t want most of it and we hate to part with our memories. My husband loves his garden and work room but he hasn’t really paid attention to those areas lately. Maintaining our home has become more difficult as we need to watch our money more closely. The workers we hire will never do the job we so lovingly did and sometimes don’t even show up! I guess we’ll keep talking about it and when the time is right we will have to do something.”
Does that resonate with you or someone you know? Have you had some or all of those feelings? You are not alone! You are amongst the majority of the people I visit over 55 years of age. Thoughts of moving closer to grandchildren, buying a home in a warmer climate, and downsizing are topics common for those who have lived in your home and raised your children. They are now moving out and it is time to re-think your future.
I speak to groups of older adults because I dread the phone call from so many clients that are increasing. It is the child of their parent who is desperately trying to help mom or dad or both find suitable housing. There has been a health emergency and they can no longer stay in their home. Stairs, bedrooms upstairs, laundry in the basement or steps outside have presented challenges that no longer work for their mom or dad. This is crisis management which is to be avoided if you properly plan.
We have a health plan, a financial plan, and wills. But how many of you have a housing plan? I mean a plan which is in real time. I am talking about a plan that reflects your current housing conditions; a plan that produces happiness and security while avoiding a crisis or isolation.
Start by educating yourself. A good mentor of mine, Adele Lund, Director of Community and Business Relations at the Laureate Group shared some thoughts with me. She has worked with thousands of families throughout the 4 counties helping them understand the intricacies of the senior housing market. I asked Adele to share a few thoughts about the challenge of a move from one’s long-time home. “The more we understand what we’re moving toward, the less fear we will have. Always better to look forward than getting stuck in the past. You’re not leaving memories behind when you move, you’re taking them on the adventure with you. It is always more difficult to move or embrace change when you are not feeling well so make the change before a crisis. Thinking about the entirety of a move is overwhelming but if you break it down into pieces by creating a plan that can be executed over a number of months or a year makes it more manageable. Another path to success is allowing others to help when they offer. That can give them a piece of that plan to help you accomplish your move.
Everything is more fearful when we don’t understand it. Can I afford to move? You won’t know until you have a firm handle on your financial situation. What are my options when looking for a new living situation? You won’t know until you get out and tour the options available and understand what the cost is for each. This piece of the plan can be done long before you make your move. It is not unusual to discover you can afford much more than you thought!
How will I fit all of my stuff into a smaller home or apartment? You likely won’t. So it’s time to reframe the question. Instead, consider do you really need to take all your stuff? You’ve likely been accumulating treasures for many years, most of which you haven’t used in many years. So use this opportunity to share some of those treasures with others who would value what you’re not using. Or sell things and use the proceeds to cover the cost of your move. The things that are really important to you will likely fit into your new home. Be realistic about what’s important and what you want to surround yourself with. Letting go can be a very freeing exercise. And paying forward some of your former treasures can be an enriching experience as well. The joy of giving never gets old!”
Those comments by Adele are based on the accumulation of knowledge from thousands who have successfully moved from their long-time homes to their new housing. The comment that Adele and I hear over and over again is, “I wish I had done it sooner”. I hope my article will provide you the courage to very gently ask your elephant in your room to please leave!
Bruce Nemovitz is a Senior Real Estate Specialist, as well as Certified Senior Advisor. Bruce has sold residential homes in the four county Milwaukee-Metro areas for 35 years. He has published a book called “Moving in the Right Direction”, A Senior’s Guide to Moving and Downsizing. Bruce has just written his second book for the children of seniors, “Guiding Our Parents in the Right Direction”, Practical Advice about Seniors Moving from the Home They Love.