Some older adults find it comforting to stay in the same city rather than embarking on a cross-country move to senior living. Several local tasks are simpler and less expensive, such as hiring movers, while others are more complicated—such as stretching out the move over weeks and months, which prolongs the transition.
We spoke with Patricia Maisano, founder and chief innovation officer of IKOR International, an advocacy and life management organization for seniors and individuals with disabilities, to explore the dynamics of moving to a senior living community close to home.
Enjoying Old Friends
In her experience, Maisano says it’s much more common for older adults to move to a senior living community close to their current home than one near a distant child or other relative. Because as much as they love their children, many seniors would rather stay put than relocate to a new city or state.
“Their lifetime friendships are where they are,” she explains. Plus, many of their friends may already be living in local senior communities, which makes their own senior living decision and transition that much simpler.
Embracing the Familiar
The fact is, familiarity is a selling point that cannot be overstated. It’s comforting to stick with the stores, restaurants, and hairdressers you already know, and many senior living communities even provide transportation to these local hotspots. In this way, the move feels like less of a transition: “It makes seniors feel like, ‘I’ve moved my physical environment, but I haven’t really moved,’” says Maisano.
Since the culture of each region varies widely, it can be extremely difficult for anyone to leave their current city or state. That goes double for seniors, many of whom have deep roots in the culture of their hometown. “It’s amazing how incredibly different the world is,” says Maisano. “That can be scary in and of itself.”
Adjusting to Change
Of course, there are potential downsides to choosing a senior living community near you. Staying local can set up an expectation that current relationships will stay the same, which won’t always be the case.
“When you move into a facility and your friends don’t, there’s a psychological dynamic at work—they don’t want to visit you because they’re afraid they’re next,” says Maisano. While less time together can cause old friendships to fade, the upside is that there are always new people to spend time with in a senior living community.
Easing the Transition
In addition, if you don’t need to vacate your current home immediately, staying local offers the potential of stretching out the move over weeks or even months. While some may enjoy the cushion of extra time to prepare, too much time can prolong the transition and make the adjustment that much more difficult. That’s why Maisano urges families to commit to a date and stick to it.
“Everyone should have a hard-and-fast move date,” she says. “It’s like pulling off a Band-Aid.”
Maisano also suggests you consider the time of day you’ll move in, and choose the least chaotic time frame at that particular facility. Change can be scary for everyone, and you don’t want your move to be completely overwhelming.
“If you move in the morning, people are flying left and right,” she says. “Late afternoon is good because the busyness of the morning is pretty much done. You can have dinner and then go to your room; it’s a good dip-your-toe-in-the-water kind of feeling. Then, when you wake up in the morning, you’ll be ready to start the day.”
CHIME IN: How has your family managed a local senior living move?