Aging in Place – When to Make the Next Move?

December 14, 2010

When the time comes to make the leap from total independence (if not waning) to a facility that offers a couple of meals a day, maid service, and close-at-hand medical response – what do you do? One of my favorite clients is at the cusp. Her home is perfect in so many ways. She only moved there about 5 or 6 years ago and after having lived in another home for a decade or so this was brand new and to which she added some handsome customizations.
As we worked together today to identify her primary pieces and evaluate the available space in her possible future digs, the crystal clear distinction occurred to me that there is an enormous difference in one who throughout their life has collected and valued things along the way. One who treasures the stories that come to mind with each painting, Indian pot or other memento…A house full of well placed and carefully displayed pieces that mean so very much.
It would be easier if there had not been so many memories kept alive in tangible things. If there had not been that sentimentality that tugs at the heart-strings when faced with the choice of what to take and what to leave behind. It’s not only leaving behind, its asking the family what they want and if they don’t, knowing that it will be discarded in an expeditious manner…without the memories, without the care.
Then the realization that this is so good right now…everything has a place…everything is here…everything that means so much, the elements of a lifetime are intact – but to break it all apart, distill into a minor rendition of the whole in a smaller, cramped space, what then?
It makes one jealous of those who can do without, those who can walk away and start fresh – but is that a fair trade? To wish for a lack of sentimentality or more specifically the attachment to material things that evokes the sentimental responses…
Making this major life adjustment when you still have your faculties and want to make intelligent, responsible decisions, yet aren’t sure that making the move is more a response to what others expect or think is best versus what is the best for you and your quality and enjoyment of life is more than tough.
After you have evaluated aspects of your home that can be improved by the many practical and actually amazing tricks to aid “aging in place,” the next step is often not easy to define or identify.
Without extraneous circumstances such as financial constraints, family being too far away, or loss of faculties – just age is being redefined all the time and each individual ages so very differently… Yesterday’s forty is today’s sixty – isn’t that what they say? The seventies are now what once the fifties were and the re-definition keeps morphing as we explore the possibilities.
Bottom line…as my friend said today – pray for the right path – give it up to a higher power – it’s often too over-whelming to try to rationalize it – it’s not that easy – not that rational to decide.

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