Many empty nesters immediately plan to sell their family home as soon as the last child is out the door. They look forward to freeing up cash for travelling and freeing up time to do the fun things they previously couldn’t do because of family responsibilities, gardening, and home maintenance.
On the other hand, “I’ll be leaving my home when they carry me out in a box”, is a comment I’ve often heard from elderly owners who intend to live in their family home until they pass away. I understand the strong emotional attachment some people have to a home where all their family memories were created.
The government is doing its bit to help them by offering the deferred property tax program and tax relief to install things like grab-bars to enable people to live in their home as long and safely as possible. The assumption is that people will be happier living in their current home no matter the challenges.
However, I have seen the down side of this philosophy. I recall working with a lovely couple in their mid-to-late 80s. Unfortunately, she had dementia and was physically frail. He was doing better but not great. They were hiring myriad companies to take care of their property, inside and out, as well as in-home care for her and meals for both of them. By the time they couldn’t manage on their own any more, selling and moving seemed formidable, both physically and emotionally. Family wasn’t close by so I hired a downsizing company for them, who helped them sort through and divest themselves of everything they couldn’t take with them. Even with the best of care, it was a trying time for them.
The most lamentable thing I noticed was the social isolation this normally gregarious couple had been experiencing for some time. Loneliness is not something easily quantifiable but none-the-less very real and substantially reduces the quality of one’s life.
A good motto to live by is: move when you want to, not when you have to. Here are some other clues that indicate you should be considering an alternative lifestyle:
- You’d rather spend your money on a trip or treating your grandchildren than on house maintenance and updating
- You’re only using a few rooms of the house
- You’re hiring a small army of people to maintain your property and yourself
- Or you don’t have the money to maintain your home and it’s slowly deteriorating around you
- Your hips and knees can’t handle the stairs anymore or it likely will be the case in the future
- Your unstable balance has resulted in a few falls
- It’s hard to admit but you’re feeling lonely quite often
- You’re starting to forget important matters to do with your home and life in general
- You’re meals are less than consistent, nutritious, or varied because shopping, cooking, and clean-up is getting too laborious
- Your children are expressing concerns for your safety and well–being
Perhaps 30 years ago, there weren’t many housing options other than to stay in the family home but this certainly is no longer the case. In another blog I’ll discuss these options in detail.