At different stages of life, a change in circumstance may cause us to feel our current home no longer suits our needs or lifestyle. When this happens, people typically choose to move or remodel their homes. Such home transitions happen throughout the span of a lifetime. Young adults move out of their parents’ home, newlyweds buy a starter home then as careers change and as children are born, people may move again and again. In later life, older adults may experience many more transitions, such as moving to a smaller home instead of a larger one. Moves occur as individuals become empty nesters. Some seek a second or retirement property or move to a Senior Living Community.
Moving can be a stressful event for most all of us, yet older adults often experience a greater sense of anxiety when moving. Some studies indicate that “senior moves” are as stressful as losing one’s spouse to death or divorce. Moving may be further complicated by a large amount of personal possessions that need to be downsized or sold. Complex family dynamics, and significant changes to personal environment, health and mobility also create senior relocation challenges. Sleeplessness, loss of appetite and even signs of temporary memory loss are fairly common symptoms of late Relocation Stress Syndrome.
Family members can help. Even those providing parent care from a distance, can support their parents throughout the moving and planning process by improving family communications understanding the emotional complications of downsizing a home and providing their parents with a sense of order and control, especially on moving day.
Planning ahead for long term care and housing solutions is another ideal way to mitigate the stress of moving and a late life transition. Aging adults are more likely to adapt to change when they are involved in decision-making form the very beginning. Exceptions to this would include adults who may be suffering from cognitive impairment due to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Advance preparations should include a thorough review of finances, health and homecare needs, as well as personal lifestyle and geographical preferences.
Moving and housing decisions alone can take quite a bit of time and should be investigated as soon as possible. Each time we make the decision to move from one place to another, we take a fresh look at our personal needs and desires as related to living space, neighborhood and community services. As we age and have more requirements, this type of evaluation becomes even more important.
Learning how to plan ahead and establish short term and long term goals can help every family. When we learn to stay ahead of large moving or remodeling projects we avoid unfortunate situations where health emergency and personal crisis end up dictating how and where we will live.