Right-Size with a Later-Life Move

Just in case you are still “sitting on the fence” about whether to stay or move or have some qualms about leaving your current home, let me give you another perspective on this issue. Although I’m sure you’ve read and heard over and over about the value of ‘aging in place’ (remaining in the same home for as long as possible), there are just as many proponents for making a later-life move. Just as we change throughout our lives, our lifestyle and housing needs also change. Remember the houses you grew up on with your parents and siblings? Remember your dorm room, or the small apartment you shared with friends, or your first home after getting married? Just as those living situations fit you and your lifestyle in the past, your current housing situation should be a good fit for where you arenow in your life. Different spaces really do fit different phases. Moving later in life should take you to a simplified setting with less responsibility, more available support and assistance, and opportunities for interaction with others. Why? Because these factors will contribute to your overall functioning and well- being as you continue to age and can help prolong your independence. Plus, your new simplified lifestyle will give you the freedom to do more of what you enjoy so you can live each day t0 the fullest~ along with time to focus on successful aging so you can make the most of this phase in your life.

Why do so many people want to age in place? Studies show that the biggest factor is difficulty letting go and moving on, but denial, fear, depression, grief basic resistance to change and emotional attachment also may have roles in this. Yes, letting go of a long time home and moving can be stressful. It can even have negative effects on some older adults. But hanging on too long often leads to a life of loneliness and isolation ~ things that are even more detrimental to positive health and successful aging.

There is a story I once read that illustrates so well the danger in hanging on when it is time to let go and move on. The story tells about a woman who was swimming across a lake with a rock in her hand. As the woman neared the centre of the lake, she started to sink from the weight of the stone. “Drop the rock,” shouted some people who were watching from the shore. But the woman kept swimming, now disappearing for moments at a time under the water. “Drop the rock,” they yelled louder. The woman had reached the middle of the lake and was sinking as much as she was swimming. Once more the people urged, “Drop the rock!” And as the woman disappeared from sight for the last time, they heard her say, “I can’t. It’s mine.”

Housing that no longer fits, accumulated belongings, and outdated roles and responsibilities can become too heavy for us as we age and will start bringing us down if we don’t release them and let go. So why not consider dropping your rocks and the things that are starting to weigh you down and look at the pros and cons of moving on to a more appropriate setting for this stage and phase of your life?
Proactively making a later life move can be one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself because it will much better enable you to retain control of your life going forward. In other words, growing and changing with your aging will help you keep step with your life. And by welcoming in continued growth and change, you are also opening the door to living and aging fully and successfully. This is often enough to convince many older adults of the value of letting go and moving on in their later years. Don’t forget that actively choosing to make this move can also be a wonderful gift for your family. So many families tell us how relieved they are that their parents made their own decisions about moving and how they wanted to live out the remaining years of their lives. “My parents gave me a tremendous gift by relieving my siblings and I the responsibility and burden of making important but very tough decisions for them later.”

Last but not least, if autonomy and freedom are important to you, moving to a smaller more appropriate and supportive setting for this phase of life can help prolong your ability to function independently because you’ll be in a better position to adapt to the changes that lie ahead. Studies show that people are less stressed and are more energized after their moves once the weight of this decision and their houses is off their shoulders, and those who make this proactive decision continue to thrive and function well for years, engaging in life and enjoying their new network of friends.

Article Featured in Forever Young Magazine (Spring 2009)
Written by Sandra Wright

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