The Council on Aging of Ottawa has produced an informative booklet to help with this often difficult decision. Staying in your home is familiar and provides continuity. Moving to a retirement home may mean foregoing some level of independence. But perhaps the maintenance, upkeep and cleaning are taking more of your time than you spend enjoying your home. Perhaps the ongoing expenses and the equity of your home could be used instead to provide more opportunities for travel, take a course, or assist your children or grandchildren.
The most important part of this decision is referenced below: plan ahead and be prepared. You may well still love where you live, but preparing will allow you to have much more control over what happens should the need arrive.
Declutter. You’ve likely heard this over and over. Because it’s the easiest for you to do, and more difficult for anyone else. Almost everyone has excess “stuff”. From the clothes that you’ll wear when they come back into style (or when you lose weight) to excess pots and pans, dishes and utensils. From old magazines to old utility bills to the basement/garage/attic storage area that you haven’t looked at in ages.
You don’t have to do it all at once, and you don’t have to get rid of everything. One very good tip I heard was to start with one room, or maybe just one drawer. Do a bit at a time so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming. You may be surprised at how good it feels to open a closet and find the 2 or 3 coats you actually wear instead of digging through 20 old ones.
Doing the decluttering while you have the time and energy will also make it more likely that the things you really like and want for usefulness, comfort and memories will move with you should that be necessary.
You can download and print the entire brochure here.
Here are some excerpts from:
It is a big decision to move or change your living arrangements at any stage of life, but especially when you are older. Planning now, before a crisis forces you to move, can make the decision easier and ensure you will be happy with your choice.
Here are some important things to consider before you use the Age-Friendly Housing Search Checklist to help you decide on what you need and what now and in the future:
Your health and mobility. How healthy and mobile are you now? How healthy and mobile do you think you will be 10 years from now? Think about existing health conditions and what you would do if your health changes or you experience a fall or injury.
Transportation. Are you willing to move and/or use public transportation when you are no longer willing or able to drive?
Living with others. Would you like to share living space with others? Or do you prefer to live on your own? Would you want to move if your partner becomes ill or dies? Do you want to live in a community with all ages, or do you prefer to live only with other older people?
Social Connections. Do you have friends, family, and social networks that are close to where you live now? Would you be able to maintain these social connections if you move?
Caregiving. Would moving help or hinder your role as a caregiver (now or in the future), as well as your ability to maintain your own health and well-being? How does the person you are caring for feel about moving? Do the Checklist together to see where your preferences match and where they do not.
This document also includes an “Age-Friendly Housing Search Checklist”, which asks questions related to the 4 As of housing options: affordability, accessibility, appropriateness and availability. They invite you to add your own living and lifestyle requirements to the Checklist, such as a desire to have pets, privacy, access to gardening or cycle paths, etc.
Whether you are ready to move or not, you may be surprised to find out how much your home is worth. There are many wonderful real estate agents who would be happy to provide you with an estimate of the value of your home. [Note: We are also real estate agents in Ottawa and have helped many people transition to smaller homes and retirement homes. We’re always happy to provide information and advice. You can visit EricManherz.com for more info.]