In the good old days, when parents reached their senior years, they often moved in with their children, who loved and cared for them as they became less and less able to do so for themselves. It wasn’t all one-sided, though, because the older folks were happy to serve as built-in babysitters, invariably spoiling the grandkids. Their life experience and advice was respected and appreciated. Today, however, that has all changed. Families are spread all over the country, often with brothers and sisters separated by thousands of miles. If you move to be closer to one child, you’ll probably be separated even further from the other. And people move. That’s not the answer.
Today’s seniors live longer and are generally more independent. FaceTime and Skype has made it possible to visit without actually traveling across country. But inevitably there comes a point when staying in a private, stand-alone home becomes too much for most seniors to manage. The lawn requires constant maintenance; shrubs and plantings demand watering, feeding, and trimming; and driveways need to be shoveled when it snows. In most cases, it’s all just too much for most seniors to handle. But parting is difficult. There are established friendships that span decades and relationships with doctors, dentists, post office employees, etc., all of which constitute the fabric of our lives.
What do you do? Do you hang on to the old homeplace, relying on paid help you with the various chores as needed (if you can find someone to do them), or do you bite the bullet and move to a smaller house, or better yet, a condominium, where maintenance is performed for you? That is the question we have been facing for the last several years. After much reflection, and after weighing the pros and cons of staying versus moving, we have finally made a decision. We are selling our home and moving to a condominium. The real estate market definitely favors sellers at the moment, especially where we live in Western North Carolina, where inventory is in short supply. But that could change at the drop of a hat (or of the stock market). So, our emphasis is definitely on selling—and the sooner the better.
Now that we’ve made the call, the pressure is totally off. We’ve begun the tedious process of divesting ourselves of as much excess baggage as possible. Already, thanks to Craigslist and other online sales avenues, we’ve managed to sell: a bicycle; two sets of golf clubs with carts; a bedroom set; CD/DVD player and amplifier; and a SLR film camera. The landfill will probably be the recipient of the remaining stuff that no longer has a meaningful purpose. But go it will.
Where will we go? We don’t know yet (of course we’ll remain here in the mountains). But, in the short term, we don’t particularly care—just as long as we can sell our house. In fact, we’ll probably rent a furnished apartment for six months, so we can take our time finding the condominium that suits us best. And, believe it or not, we’re actually getting excited—energized— about the move. We’ve been kind of reborn if you will. It’s going to be fun deciding where to place the big screen TV, whether or not we’ll have a guest bedroom, or who’ll get the loft or bonus room all to himself (or herself, as will most likely be the case).
There’s a lot to be said for taking matters into your own hands. I must admit that we had become somewhat paralyzed by our situation, preferring to let the course of our future be dictated by chance. But thanks to our daughter and son-in-law, who provided us with some much-needed insight into the benefits of being proactive, our “paralysis through analysis” is a thing of the past. For better or for worse, we took matters into our own hands and made a decision, and now it’s full steam ahead. Look out world, here we come!
If you’re at that juncture in your own lives, where it’s time to fish or cut bait regarding the old homestead, why not sit down and make a list of the pros and cons of staying in your home (in most cases, it’s not hard to predict what the result will be). Then make a decision. Either way, you’ll be glad you did. We certainly are.