If you have been wondering if downsizing from your larger house to the more compact lifestyle of a retirement community is the right step for you then you are not alone. According to a survey done last year, 52% of Ontario baby boomers (people born between 1946 to 1965) consider big cities unfit for retirement. And so, a majority are considering downsizing and moving out.
One option to declutter and enjoy a more fulfilling retirement life is to move to a retirement community. Seniors, singles and couples alike, who have made the move will tell you that living in a space designed specifically with them in mind, helps them feel calmer, safer, better taken care of and more engaged. Some tell us that they wish they had made the move sooner. But that’s them.
Read on to see if downsizing and moving to a retirement community is the kind of fresh start you need in your life.
1. Am I having difficulty maintaining my home?
With each passing year most seniors find themselves having to pay for someone to do an increasing number of routine home maintenance tasks that they used to enjoy doing themselves. If the thought of mowing your lawn, gardening, snow removal, cleaning your house, maintaining the yard, furnace and roof sounds tiresome, maybe it’s time to think of downsizing to a no-maintenance environment.
Another aspect to keep in mind regarding your house is modernization or renovations. If that’s something you feel your house needs, then consider the demands such a project will put on your time, money and health, and ask yourself if it’ll be worth it.
2. Am I worried about being alone if I fall or become ill?
Falls are the most common cause of injury among older Canadians. Last year, approximately 20% of Canadians aged 65 and older (i.e. approximately 1 million) reported a fall and each year, hospitalizations due to falls account for about 85% of injury related hospitalizations for seniors. It is estimated that at least half of such incidents and associated serious complications could be prevented if the spaces in which the seniors live were designed specifically for their mobility needs and there were instant help close at hand to manage the accident.
There are other risks of living alone or with minimum help. Mundane things could become a potential threat to your health in older years including catching a common cold or a stomach bug. If specialized medical assistance is not provided when needed, it could complicate things further and faster.
Another factor to consider is that if you wait for too long and your health deteriorates to a stage that requires special attention, it is possible that you may not qualify for retirement accommodation. Retirement communities require a mandatory medical check up before move in and it is true, that not all of them are able to deal with and support all healthcare requirements. Upon move in, communities need to know you are healthy enough for what they can provide. On the other hand, if you are a resident and your health conditions worsen the community will typically make efforts to address your needs so that you can continue living there. So, deciding to not live by yourself, downsize your large house and move into a retirement community before an actual need arises could be the right choice for some.
3. Do I enjoy planning and preparing my own meals?
Sure, hearty home cooked meals are great but preparing them everyday could take away more from you than give, especially if you tire easily and / or need someone to come in to do it for you. Cooking can easily become a chore and less of a pleasure with all the tasks of shopping for groceries, washing dishes and cleaning up after getting added to the mix.
Unfortunately, it can also lead to irregular mealtimes and poor nutrition. This is especially undesirable when you are trying to stay as healthy and free of illness as possible. Retirement living means you never have to cook again or worry about eating what’s best for you to stay healthy. If you’d like to have family over for a nice dinner every now and then, several communities offer a kitchen and dining room for residents’ use if and when they’d like to host.
4. Am I able to or get tired doing daily tasks?
Many seniors hide some of their personal care needs or deny that they need assistance. It’s possible that when a visiting relative notices that you are indeed in need of support with mobility, personal care or daily tasks they may offer to assist you. But what happens if they become unavailable for a few days? Or if you don’t have family and friends close by then your other option, if you continue living in the same house, is to hire an aide. Average cost of a home health aide is $20 an hour, and a few hours of help everyday can have you spending $2500 a month or more. A question to ask yourself would be: would this money be better invested in residing at a retirement or assisted living community where not only the help you need is provided but other lifestyle requirements are taken care of too.
5. Do I want to live near people my age and have easier access to social activities?
Your children have moved away, and so have your old neighbours. In fact the neighbourhood has changed drastically from 30 years ago when you first decided to buy a home here. For chores and other care, you’ve hired help and so, you have freed up a lot of time from your daily routine. But what are you going to do with all the time, when you’re retired and aren’t fixing your roof or vacuuming or cooking?
Retirement living not only frees up your time but also offers several interesting opportunities to use that time. It offers unique ways to engage residents in hobbies, learn new things and meet people your age with interests similar to yours. Selling your house and moving to retirement housing, can leave you with both, time and energy for things you may have been putting off for too long.
6. Do I want to unlock my capital so that I can travel?
Today, the equity tied up in a house is the single largest part of owned holdings among most Canadians. Turning that into cash could provide several new options. After retirement, if you’d like to go on a vacation or travel far to visit friends and family, you may wish to consider selling your large house to liquidate the asset. Some folks use the freed up cash to make financial gifts to loved ones or charities from their future estate now.
7. Do I feel unsafe living alone in my own house?
As commercial districts encroach residential areas and neighbourhoods age, security has become a genuine concern. House alarm systems aren’t always reliable, response times from emergency service providers are unpredictable and old houses don’t have adequate security provisions. Feeling unsafe is no way to live in your own home. Downsizing and moving to a guarded community may be a great way to live more comfortably. And what if when you’d like to travel and are away from your house for days or weeks? The vulnerability of a large, vacant house may be untenable. Retirement living makes it easy to turn the key and be away for as long as you like, confident that your home is secure.
These are just a few of the key issues we recommend that you weigh, along with your circumstances, when you are trying to determine if downsizing your current lifestyle and residing in a retirement community is the right choice for you.
If you are interested in knowing more about how you can transition to a fulfilling retirement life, drop us a message here to schedule a free and no-obligation phone chat with us.