My parents are both 66 years old and are very reluctant to move out of their paid off, 2,500 square foot home on half an acre. Not only are the steep stairs in their house an issue, but the maintenance (both inside and out) is terribly hard to stay on top of. While they aren’t quite ready to let go of the home that is saturated in memories and hosts countless parties, we have been researching retirement communities in the area for when the time is right for them to move. Here are some pros and cons that we have found when it comes time to move into a retirement community.
- Downsizing – This is a bad word to my mother. Letting go of her 25 party platters, four closets full of clothes, sewing room, exercise room, and the what-if-I-need-them items (aka “junk”) in the garage!?!?! Never! This would take countless hours and at least five of my cat’s nine lives.
- Letting go of memories – My parents have lived in their house for 22 years. That is the only home of grandma and grandpa’s that nine grandchildren have memories of. It’s hosted 15 Christmases, roasted 20 Thanksgiving turkeys, was the place of my wedding rehearsal dinner, and has had 102 birthday candles blown out in the kitchen (okay, so I made that number up….) The point is, how do you let go of something that is the backdrop of so many fond recollections? The answer: not easily.
- Selling the house – The housing market is like a yo-yo. When is the right time to sell? Will the market go higher? Will the taxes outweigh the equity? No time is ever the right time.
- Unburdened – This past month my parents have re-painted the outside of their home and put in a new tile floor in their kitchen because their refrigerator leaked. Add to that the cost of their gardener, housekeeper, and the property tax that is due this month, and owning a home is quite expensive. In a retirement community, these things would be taken care of at a much lower cost.
- Living Memories – I have a friend whose mother gives her a piece of her jewelry on special birthdays so that she can have the pleasure of watching her daughter enjoy them. (Hint hint, mom!) Just because things are gone, it doesn’t mean the memories are. Sometimes the past their reminders can hold us back. Plus, there are so many others who can make new memories with those items.
- Untapped Resources – My parents love to travel but are worried about their home being safe. Not an issue at a retirement community!
- Social Life – Last month my 70-something godmother came to visit and she was just as vivacious and precocious as ever. She had moved into a retirement community six months ago and was raving over the fun she was having. Bowling nights, theme parties, knitting circles, and new found friends to travel with were on the top of her praise list. She also met a new gentleman friend who has given her much needed companionship since the loss of her husband five years ago. I dread the day when one of my parents will pass, but in a retirement community I know they won’t be alone.
I doubt my parents will be moving any time soon, but while we have the luxury of time we will continue to look for what will suit them best. Fortunately, we have several great options to choose from and when the time comes, we will all be ready.