Downsizing, To Move or Not to Move? That is the Question

Posted by Rosemary, Volunteer Mentor @rosemarya, Apr 12, 2020

At some point as we age, we will have to make a decision about leaving our homes and downsizing. Maybe in our own town or to another town. Maybe to smaller home, condo, apartment, or assisted living/senior community.

When the time comes to downsize, seniors can struggle with a multitude of emotional, physical, and financial challenges.

How do you make an informed decision about when to downsize?
What tips do you have to share?

@becsbuddy Maybe a donation to a Museum and then you can visit them plus some tax savings.

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@becsbuddy

@rosemarya Sometimes downsizing means a lot more than physically moving. What I have trouble with, is where do all the family heirlooms go? I have oil paintings from Norway that my husbands family brought over in the 1800s and a trousseau box from 1737 (also from Norway.) The younger generation doesn’t want them, so, what to do? I’m really open to suggestion!

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@becsbuddy As a genealogist I encounter this often. I often suggest the local history society, but they often have no room and/or do not have the capabilities to properly care for pieces. Then I suggest heritage societies. For instance I had several books in Czech, which the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library took. Perhaps for you the Norwegian Historical Society might find them of value for their collections, especially since you know their provenance. Most everything I have accumulated will be simply sold in an eventual estate sale.

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@nene22

I guess I am lucky. We built our house when my husband was disabled from COPD so we have a ramp in the garage that makes it easy to get into the house. The master shower has a seat and the house has just two bedrooms. It is also small (only 1250 sq. feet) and is in a small town (under 3000 population). The only drawback is that the closest hospital is 30 minutes away but we have an emergency squad that can get us there if we can't drive. The hospital is small and if we needed something large the nearest large hospital is over an hour away. We have a screened in porch that is wonderful in the summer. I know most of my neighbors which also makes it great. My husband is now gone but I plan to stay here as long as I can.

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@nene22 Your home sounds ideal, size and its amenities. It really is nice to be in a neighborhood where you know and are friendly with the people around you.

@becsbuddy I too wonder what will become of many of our things. My son and daughter are both real sentimentalists so I think they will want many things but other things that we have accumulated and are dear to me will probably not be wanted by either of them. The things I have of any real value will not be a problem. I think @IndianaScott has the right idea, the kids can sell them at an estate sale.
JK

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Any suggestions for widow seniors, no children

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@kirkham Hi and welcome to connect, Good question and I would think maybe a nice community of people someplace that suits your likes. I know I've thought about possibly a place I could do my 2 loves Golf and Hiking so I've thought about maybe a 55 plus community on a golf course. I'm sure others will have ideas also. I would also like to know what brought you to connect? We have people on here from all different experiences so ask away and I know someone will have things to share.

Have a Blessed Day
Dana

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@nene22

I guess I am lucky. We built our house when my husband was disabled from COPD so we have a ramp in the garage that makes it easy to get into the house. The master shower has a seat and the house has just two bedrooms. It is also small (only 1250 sq. feet) and is in a small town (under 3000 population). The only drawback is that the closest hospital is 30 minutes away but we have an emergency squad that can get us there if we can't drive. The hospital is small and if we needed something large the nearest large hospital is over an hour away. We have a screened in porch that is wonderful in the summer. I know most of my neighbors which also makes it great. My husband is now gone but I plan to stay here as long as I can.

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@nene22 How wonderful that you built your house with adaptations that are allowing you to continue living "in place". A close friend's brother lives in a very small community miles away from our hospitals. More than once, he has been flown here by a medical helicopter.
It is a blessing to be living in a great neighborhood like we do. The pandemic and its heartbreaking affects on nursing homes and sr. living establishments has made me even more grateful and appreciative that I am living in my own, comfortable home of many years.

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@kirkham

Any suggestions for widow seniors, no children

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You pose a good question, @kirkham. A widowed friend with no children named a close friend executor of her estate and he is director of some low income housing entity. Not sure of the particulars but when the time comes for her to move or have an estate sale, he will arrange for appraisals and the proceeds of the sale will go to that organization. She says a priority in looking at sr. living places is that they provide many "indoor" activities available for those who are less mobile but who enjoy lectures, games, etc.

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A senior living community may not be the choice for everyone. However, I am sharing this link with everyone because of the Q&A about planning and decisions.
Pages.Charter House>When is the Right Time to Move?
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/charter-house/newsfeed-post/when-is-the-right-time-to-move/
My mother-in-law made the decision to move to an assisted living complex when health issues and mobility became problems for her. She had her car and was completely independent, with assistance as needed when she eventually had a knee replacement and a back surgery. When driving became as issue, she relied on the complex's van and she never missed a bi-weekly road trip that was arranged by the activities director. As her health and needs changed, she transitioned to higher levels of care and was comfortable because she was surrounded by familiar faces. As her children we also became friends with the staff.

Each time she downsized (home – assisted living 2 bedroom apt – 1 bedroom – nursing home unit) she always invited us to look over her and invited us to select what we wanted. Then she arranged to have a sale of the rest. This worked well for her and for us. Her example has had a profound effect on my husband and my way of thinking.
I remember once while in a conversation about her final wishes, I told her that the one thing that I would really like to have was a particular silver chain necklace with a pearl/diamond pendant that had been made with one of her mother's earrings. She went right back to her jewelry box and gave it to me!

@kirkham, Have you looked at any assisted living complexes? Are there any senior communities in your area where there are activities for seniors?

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@rosemarya

A senior living community may not be the choice for everyone. However, I am sharing this link with everyone because of the Q&A about planning and decisions.
Pages.Charter House>When is the Right Time to Move?
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/charter-house/newsfeed-post/when-is-the-right-time-to-move/
My mother-in-law made the decision to move to an assisted living complex when health issues and mobility became problems for her. She had her car and was completely independent, with assistance as needed when she eventually had a knee replacement and a back surgery. When driving became as issue, she relied on the complex's van and she never missed a bi-weekly road trip that was arranged by the activities director. As her health and needs changed, she transitioned to higher levels of care and was comfortable because she was surrounded by familiar faces. As her children we also became friends with the staff.

Each time she downsized (home – assisted living 2 bedroom apt – 1 bedroom – nursing home unit) she always invited us to look over her and invited us to select what we wanted. Then she arranged to have a sale of the rest. This worked well for her and for us. Her example has had a profound effect on my husband and my way of thinking.
I remember once while in a conversation about her final wishes, I told her that the one thing that I would really like to have was a particular silver chain necklace with a pearl/diamond pendant that had been made with one of her mother's earrings. She went right back to her jewelry box and gave it to me!

@kirkham, Have you looked at any assisted living complexes? Are there any senior communities in your area where there are activities for seniors?

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@rosemarya, Thank you for sharing your mil's downsizing experience. I'd earlier read the Charter House article and thought it raised important points to consider. It speaks volumes to your strong relationship with your mil that she so readily gifted you "ahead of time" with the pendant you so admired.

Like your mil, I'd been thinking along similar lines for my own downsizing and relocation to d.'s area. One thing I noticed early on as my d. and I toured different places in 2 diff states was that I'm a person who needs space to feel comfortable so "open-concept" floor plans held most appeal. Another biggie for me is that I need a ready "escape hatch" so being on the ground floor with an outdoor exit would be my much preferred choice. Of course those are high demand so the waits for vacancies would take longer but still if wishing, why not for those accommodations that would bring most comfort at the time of entry?

REPLY
@rosemarya

A senior living community may not be the choice for everyone. However, I am sharing this link with everyone because of the Q&A about planning and decisions.
Pages.Charter House>When is the Right Time to Move?
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/charter-house/newsfeed-post/when-is-the-right-time-to-move/
My mother-in-law made the decision to move to an assisted living complex when health issues and mobility became problems for her. She had her car and was completely independent, with assistance as needed when she eventually had a knee replacement and a back surgery. When driving became as issue, she relied on the complex's van and she never missed a bi-weekly road trip that was arranged by the activities director. As her health and needs changed, she transitioned to higher levels of care and was comfortable because she was surrounded by familiar faces. As her children we also became friends with the staff.

Each time she downsized (home – assisted living 2 bedroom apt – 1 bedroom – nursing home unit) she always invited us to look over her and invited us to select what we wanted. Then she arranged to have a sale of the rest. This worked well for her and for us. Her example has had a profound effect on my husband and my way of thinking.
I remember once while in a conversation about her final wishes, I told her that the one thing that I would really like to have was a particular silver chain necklace with a pearl/diamond pendant that had been made with one of her mother's earrings. She went right back to her jewelry box and gave it to me!

@kirkham, Have you looked at any assisted living complexes? Are there any senior communities in your area where there are activities for seniors?

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You raised an interesting point I had forgotten @rosemarya My wife gifted all of her significant jewelry and art when she was still alive. She enjoyed giving them and being able to tell each person why something was important to her or why she thought of them when she wanted to gift it. I have now done the same with all the remaining art, etc. in our home. Had our children walk through, tell me what if anything they wanted and put their name on the back, noted those gifts in our estate papers, etc. Worked out great for us!

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@rosemarya

A senior living community may not be the choice for everyone. However, I am sharing this link with everyone because of the Q&A about planning and decisions.
Pages.Charter House>When is the Right Time to Move?
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/charter-house/newsfeed-post/when-is-the-right-time-to-move/
My mother-in-law made the decision to move to an assisted living complex when health issues and mobility became problems for her. She had her car and was completely independent, with assistance as needed when she eventually had a knee replacement and a back surgery. When driving became as issue, she relied on the complex's van and she never missed a bi-weekly road trip that was arranged by the activities director. As her health and needs changed, she transitioned to higher levels of care and was comfortable because she was surrounded by familiar faces. As her children we also became friends with the staff.

Each time she downsized (home – assisted living 2 bedroom apt – 1 bedroom – nursing home unit) she always invited us to look over her and invited us to select what we wanted. Then she arranged to have a sale of the rest. This worked well for her and for us. Her example has had a profound effect on my husband and my way of thinking.
I remember once while in a conversation about her final wishes, I told her that the one thing that I would really like to have was a particular silver chain necklace with a pearl/diamond pendant that had been made with one of her mother's earrings. She went right back to her jewelry box and gave it to me!

@kirkham, Have you looked at any assisted living complexes? Are there any senior communities in your area where there are activities for seniors?

Jump to this post

@rosemarya My mother developed Alzheimers and dementia, so we never had a conversation like that. As for my dad, as he downsized things, he noted items to go to particular relatives. Not long before he moved from his senior apartment, I was up for a visit. What did he gift me? A very old folding machete and camp shovel, that we used to carry in the car going into the mountain each week. A nice picnic blanket. And a firearm he had had since i was little. Afterwards, he left me several books that were well-used and old. Ah, the memories…
Ginger

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@fiesty76

@rosemarya, Thank you for sharing your mil's downsizing experience. I'd earlier read the Charter House article and thought it raised important points to consider. It speaks volumes to your strong relationship with your mil that she so readily gifted you "ahead of time" with the pendant you so admired.

Like your mil, I'd been thinking along similar lines for my own downsizing and relocation to d.'s area. One thing I noticed early on as my d. and I toured different places in 2 diff states was that I'm a person who needs space to feel comfortable so "open-concept" floor plans held most appeal. Another biggie for me is that I need a ready "escape hatch" so being on the ground floor with an outdoor exit would be my much preferred choice. Of course those are high demand so the waits for vacancies would take longer but still if wishing, why not for those accommodations that would bring most comfort at the time of entry?

Jump to this post

@fiesty76, I commend you for recognizing your preferences, and for starting to do your own 'research' ahead of time. That is the best way to know what possibilities are out there. We (husband and I) are just in the talking/planning phase. We are comfortable here at our home, and we do all of the yard work, and are both active and healthy for our age. We love our friends here, and we are active in local and church communities. To pick up and leave here is not desirable currently. However, we know that as we age, or if either of our health changes unexpectedly, we want to relocate closer to either of our sons. And both live in an area with many more options than we have here.

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