Preparing Yourself for a Housing Change

Whether you’re considering home care services or relocating to a retirement home or other facility, planning your future housing needs often runs hand-in-hand with facing up to some loss in your level of independence. Understandably, the prospect of losing independence can be overwhelming for many older adults. It can bring with it feelings of shame, embarrassment, fear, confusion, and anger.

It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this. Most of us over the age of 65 will require some type of long-term care services. And there’s nothing to be ashamed about in admitting you need more help than you used to. After all, we’ve all had to rely on others at some point during our adult lives, be it for help at work or home, vehicle repairs, professional or legal services, or simply moral support. For many of us, independence is recognizing when it’s time to ask for help.

Coming to terms with changes in your level of independence

It’s normal to feel confused, vulnerable, or even angry when you realize you can’t do the things you used to be able to do. You may feel guilty at the prospect of being a burden to family and friends, or yearn for the way things used to be. By acknowledging these feelings and keeping your mind open to new ways to make life easier, you’ll not only cope with your change in situation better but may also be able to prolong other aspects of your independence for longer.

Communicate your needs with family and loved ones. It’s important to communicate with family members your wishes and plans, and listen to their concerns. For example, long distance family members might think it’s better for you to move close by so that they can better coordinate your care, while you might not want to uproot yourself from your community and friends. Similarly, just because you have family close by does not automatically mean they will be able to help with all your needs. They may also be balancing work, children, and other commitments. Clear communication from the outset can help avoid misunderstandings or unrealistic assumptions.

Be patient with yourself. Losses are a normal part of aging and losing your independence is not a sign of weakness. Allow yourself to feel sad or frustrated about changes in your housing situation or other aspects of your life without beating yourself up or labeling yourself a failure.

Be open to new possibilities. Your loved ones may offer suggestions about senior housing options or other ways to make your life easier. Rather than dismissing them out of hand, try to keep an open mind and discuss the possibilities. Sometimes, new experiences and situations can lead to you developing new friendships or finding new interests you’d never considered before.

Find a way of accepting help that makes you comfortable. It can be tough to strike a balance between accepting help and maintaining as much of your independence as possible. But remember that many people will feel good about helping you. If it makes it easier, offer to trade chores. For example, you can sew on buttons in exchange for some heavy lifting or cleaning chores. Or return other people’s help by “paying it forward.” Volunteer your time to help or teach others, while at the same time expanding your own social network.

Content provided by HelpGuide.org