Getting Where You Want to Be
Sure, it sounds wonderful to place your home maintenance chores into the hands of the trusted staff here at Cornell Trace, and focus on the real business of enjoying your retirement; but there is that looming hurdle to living your dream: getting here. Moving is a daunting task no matter when in your life you undertake it, and as a senior you have extra considerations. You know you need to lighten the load of possessions you have accumulated over a lifetime. Unfortunately, it is at a time when your energy and your joints aren’t what they used to be. And who can deny the struggle of saying goodbye to the place you call home, where you may have made decades of memories? Before you decide to bury your head in the sand, or just grit your teeth and “git ‘er done” a little perspective could help make the transition more comfortable.
Transitions Are Tough on Anybody and Everybody
Stress, over happy as well as trying events, is a part of living. Too much of it, however, weakens our immune systems, putting us at risk of getting sick. In 1967, two psychiatrists, Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, researched the causal link between stress and illness. They came up with a list of 43 life events in order of the stress levels they cause (Resource: Wikipedia). Many of these events can occur in clusters in the lives of seniors: retirement, personal injury or illness, or the death of a spouse (the most stressful event in the list), for example. They may influence a decision to change where you live, which is also on the stress list. Waiting until the pressure of life events has piled up can mean decisions you want to make on your own become a family matter. Well-meaning family members may make decisions on your behalf without clearly understanding your concerns.
The best argument for choosing independent living at Cornell Trace now, while you are able-bodied and clear-headed, is the chance to maintain control of your choices. A feeling of losing control or being overwhelmed plays a big part in creating relocation stress. Over the past two decades, increasing attention has been paid to relocation stress syndrome (RSS), a formal nursing diagnosis with symptoms including exhaustion, sleep disturbances, anxiety, grief and depression. Early studies on RSS focused on outcomes of individuals moved to nursing homes and assisted living facilities without their involvement or consent. Even a move to an independent living community, however, requires acknowledgement that age imposes limits, and it is now understood that RSS can affect those who have chosen to make the move themselves (See Margit Novack, How to Alleviate the Stress of Moving for Older Adults). This makes preparing wisely for a transition to senior independent living very important.
Make Your Move Easier
Here are a few tips to for organizing your senior housing research. There is no need for you to go it alone. Make the most of the professionals who are there to answer your questions and provide services.
- Try to start at least a year before you intend to move. Take your time touring the senior living facilities in the area you want to live. Tour places you don’t think offer the lifestyle you have in mind; you may be surprised to find there is something you like better.
- Go back and revisit the places you liked best and bring the list of questions you have developed during your research.
- When you find a place you want to live, be sure to get on their waiting list, if they have one. Try not to limit yourself to one facility; give yourself options.
- Create a relationship with a real estate agent you trust. Find out about the market for your home. Listen to what your agent tells you about preparing your house for sale.
- Consider employing the services of a professional senior move manager or relocation and transition specialist who can guide support and advise you as you prepare for your move. Services include developing a timeline; helping you choose what to move with you, sell, donate, or throw away; planning for furniture placement, moving day coordination, unpacking, and arranging your furniture and accessories.
- If you are concerned about needing money up front from the sale of your house in order to move to a place you like, consider selling and renting until a unit becomes available.
- Keep your family in the loop as much (or as little) as will give you peace of mind and result in you being happy with your choices.
When you do make it in to your new home, take it easy! It may take 6 months for you to feel rested and at home. Cornell Trace is a wonderful place to settle into and relax in the meantime.