Home Sweet Home

At 73, my friend Luise began looking at her home with different eyes. It was true that the spacious three-level home, she and her husband had built a decade earlier, afforded a gorgeous view of Puget Sound. At breakfast, she could watch the sun rise over the water. This seemed like the perfect place to spend their retirement. However, this perfect retreat was beginning to present obstacles.

For starters, there were stairs, it was in a remote location, and their lack of health care was growing heavy on their minds. The latter being all the more critical since her husband was 15 years older than she. So like many seniors, Luise began searching for the perfect retirement home. She found herself faced with many options, which posed a whole new set of questions. Would they be happier in a smaller single-level home vs. a condo, or would an apartment in a senior complex or retirement community be more appropriate? Ultimately, they decided against all of the above, sold their home, and started exploring the country in an RV. After two years had passed, it still didn’t feel like the perfect longterm solution.”I was searching for a place where we could put down roots,” she recalls. They decided to give up their vagabond lifestyle, and once again began exploring other options.

Many seniors today are following in Luise and her husband’s footsteps. Below are a few suggestions to help you be more prepared for the road ahead.

Make A List Do you want to live in a particular region or climate? Do you want to be close to your family? Is the availability of health care and services important to you? Do you want to live close to people your own age?

Luise found that as she began to research retirement living options, certain of the “must-haves” didn’t seem so important. Originally, they wanted a Catholic-sponsored retirement community. They found one,but unfortunately it was located in a region of the country they weren’t interested in, so it was back to the drawing board.

Look Around Look at your list of “must-haves,” and begin your search. Tour possible communities, and see what feels good to you. Do they have desired amenities and services? If you visit retirement communities, observe the residents and staff. Are they happy? Are they engaged in meaningful activities? You might find it helpful to spend a weekend in a retirement community’s guest apartment. That will give you the opportunity to experience meal times, and other special activities.

Another idea is to find help with housing through one of the many referral agencies. These are people who will understand your needs and wants, and can help narrow down your search to two or three places.

Jump Right In You’ve made your choice, so now it’s time to move into action. If you decide to continue living in your current home, you may want to make some changes; possibly hiring housekeeping and yard care services. Otherwise, go forward toward relocating to another home.

When Luise and her husband took this step, their process took a little longer than most.They tried several communities before finding one with all of their desired qualities: location, plenty of volunteer opportunities, and a variety of activities.

Enlist the Troops Downsizing into new quarters is easier if you can get some help from children or others. If necessary, there are people who specialize in helping you sort through your possessions. They can assist you in deciding which furniture and items should go with you to your new destination, which should be sold, and which should be given to relatives and friends. The best way to downsize is a little bit at a time, so you don’t become overwhelmed.

Like Luise, you may find that exploring senior living options will help you decide which is the best choice for you.Going through these steps will free you to focus on the things that matter most.