While it is not inevitable, many seniors will downsize their living situations as they enter their 60s, 70s, and beyond. For these individuals, the options are usually either to buy a new, smaller home or to move into an assisted living center. If you find yourself facing this decision, you may be intimidated by the process. The good news is that it does not have to be overwhelming, and the following advice can help you along the way.
Which Is Best: Assisted Living or Aging in Place?
If you know that a move is necessary but have yet to decide where the next chapter of your life will take you, you will first need to consider your health. If you have trouble with activities of daily living (bathing, toileting, dressing, etc.), then an assisted living facility may be your best bet. While each facility is different, most provide basic assistance for seniors with a mind for independence. In the Los Angeles area, you can expect to spend anywhere from $1,500 to $17,860 per month depending on the level of care and amenities.
When you do not yet need assistance but realize that you are not as capable of cleaning a large home, ascending stairs, and navigating narrow hallways, downsizing to a smaller house is a sensible option. Talk to your realtor about finding a home that incorporates elements of universal design. Universal design means the home is laid out in a way that accommodates people of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. Look for features such as a stepless entry and a single-story floor plan. Cost-wise, buying a smaller home may be more of an initial upfront investment compared to assisted living, and you will be responsible for your mortgage, utilities, food, transportation, and other personal expenses. However, this allows for the most independence.
Prepping for a Big Move to a Small Space
Now that you’ve made your decision, you’re going to need to start handpicking furniture and other personal items that will make the transition with you. If you’re moving into a single-family home, space will be your only real constraint. However, instead of just throwing things to the curb, put no-longer-needed furniture and household goods to good use by donating them to a local charity. Updater.com explains that this comes prepackaged with both tax benefits and the knowledge that you’ve kept unnecessary items out of the landfill.
Moving into an assisted living apartment may require you to pick and choose more carefully. There are many items that are frowned upon or downright prohibited in a senior living community. Call your community representative if you are unsure of their policies.
Navigating the Emotions
There is no way around the fact that moving, for whatever reason, is an emotional experience. It is also one that is deeply personal. If possible, give yourself plenty of time to pack and say goodbye to your home, neighbors, and community. Remind yourself that you are moving with a purpose. This might be for more opportunities to socialize or to move into a home without stairs to minimize your risk of falling. When your upcoming move comes on the heels of losing a spouse or longtime partner, the process may be even more emotionally challenging. Don’t be afraid to talk to your family and friends if you need a listening ear.
It’s time to enjoy your retirement. But remember, know what you can — and can’t — take with you, and be prepared for an emotional experience. The journey may not always be pleasant, but the end result will be a safer and more comfortable you.
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