Sunday, January 15, 2006

live, where to

Preretirement counselors advise prospective retirees to assess their current housing situation and consider where they should live in retirement. For some, this may mean selling their family home and purchasing a smaller one. Others may choose to rent or move to an apartment complex so the burden of maintenance is on someone else. Some may want to hold onto the house that has been a home full of memories for so many years.
Most people want to retire in the same general area in which they live. But others look for that elusive paradise and seek a totally new environment. If a new locale is selected several basic needs should be fulfilled to ensure a smooth transition:
• • health-a climate and housing suited to one's physical condition
• • economic security-a price that is affordable
• • status-a position or voice in the community
• • friendship--a place where the retiree already has friends or where the opportunity exists to make new friends
If a location is selected on the basis of climate it is a good idea to research the area by spending an extended vacation there. Every area has both agreeable and disagreeable weather at times. Subscribe to the daily or weekly newspaper in the area and read it carefully for items on food prices, business activity, real estate prices, and taxes. Look for items that give a "feel" for the community such as social, recreational, and church activities.
Most experts would advise against moving just to be near one's children. Too often the retiree finds that children are caught up in the demands of their own daily lives and they are left living in a city they otherwise would not have chosen, with few friends and interests outside of their children and grandchildren.
As the retiree grows older, he or she may pass through three stages of activity-active, slowdown, and dependent. Most people think only of their current, active stage when selecting housing. It is important, however, to think ahead to the slowdown and dependent stages. The importance of medical facilities looms larger and should be nearby or within easy access. As eyesight deteriorates and driving becomes more difficult, public transportation may be needed. One-level living areas greatly facilitate the use of wheelchairs and walkers. It need not be depressing to consider these possibilities when changing housing and it will certainly ease the transition if it has been planned for in advance.
As the older person becomes more dependent due to deteriorating health, the choices of where to live become more complex and may be settled only with family consultations or professional guidance. Nursing homes, retirement centers, live-in care, or living with one's children are all options that need careful evaluation, so that not only are the needs of the older person met but those of the family as well. It is important, whenever possible, for the elderly to make their own decision about where to live. Generally, acceptance and contentment are more easily achieved.
Fromme, A. Life After Work. Glenview, Ill.: AARP, 1985.
Gillies, J. A Guide to Caring for and Coping with Aging Parents. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1981.
Lester, A. D. and Lester, J. L. Understanding Aging Parents. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1980.


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