Independent Living

Independent Living in Retirement: Does Planning Ahead Matter?

Plan for Independent Living - Moving ForwardIndependent living in retirement is everyone’s dream.  But is it your plan?  Just like planning for our retirement financial needs, we hear that we need to plan for housing needs as we age.  But does planning ahead really matter?

Fortunately Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research actually did research on this very question.  They analyzed extensively about moves made between 1992 and 2004 by people who were 51 to 61 at the time that they moved.

They divided the people into two groups: planners and reactors.

  • Reactors were people who said that they had been forced to move, by family or heath issues, the death of a spouse, or a divorce.
  • Those people who seemed to be in control of their move, they called Planners. Planners’ reasons for moving were to get a better location, to prepare for retirement or for financial reasons.

At Moving Forward about half of our clients fall into each group.

Winston the Reactor:

One client, we’ll call him Winston, absolutely wanted to stay in his home and had no intention of moving out of it ever, for any reason.  True, the bedrooms and bath were upstairs, the laundry was in the basement, and his nearest family was about an hour away.  But Winston liked those stairs.  He claimed that’s what kept him in shape all these years.

Injury can Prevent Indepent Living - Moving ForwardWinston didn’t see any reason to look at other arrangements for independent retirement living.  He also didn’t see the ice on the porch when he went out to get the paper last January.  At the emergency room he learned that he had suffered a broken ankle and concussion.  He needed surgery and rehab for the ankle.  The concussion led to some mental confusion.

After surgery on the ankle and a stay in a rehab hospital, his mobility improved slowly.  But the affects of the concussion were more lasting.

When it was time to move out of the rehab hospital, Winston was no longer able to drive or to climb stairs.

Unfortunately he had no “Plan B.”

His family had to make a decision on the spot as to where Winston would live. Neither he nor his family had any idea what to look for and what questions to ask.  It was a steep learning curve. A retirement placement consultant was helpful, but the process was still stressful for everyone.

Moving Forward handled the move for him with extremely short notice, working off lists that Winston dictated to us on the phone.  He had to depend completely on his memory, because he wasn’t able to even visit his old home.

Ruth the Planner

For another client, we’ll call Ruth, it was a puddle of water on the bathroom floor that sent her to the emergency room.  She had been getting in and out of that same shower for 50 years, but then one day in March something happened.  She hit the floor, broke her thigh and dislocated her shoulder.

Fortunately Ruth recovered well in the rehab hospital.  And even more fortunate, Ruth had a “Plan B.”

Ruth had wanted to stay in her own home as long as possible, but she realized that an accident like this could happen.  So she had visited several retirement communities and took the time to consider which ones would work best for her in various situations.  She had attended open house luncheons, chatted with the admissions people and even signed up to be wait list for the spot that pleased her the most.

The community had called her a number of times in the last two years when spots became open.  She hadn’t been ready, so she had always declined.  Until now.

Living Independently - Moving ForwardNow while she needed it, there would be bathing assistance, meals and housekeeping available.  As her mobility increased, she could reduce these services if she wanted to.  Her goal was to be back to the golf course one day.  But in the meantime, she has joined the Wii Golf league in the recreation room.

Ruth the Planner had a much easier move than Winston the Reactor.  Ruth knew what to expect at her new home and had the comfort of knowing that she had been able to select it herself from the various options in her area.

Winston the Reactor was anxious about moving to a place he had never even seen before.  He had to trust his children to select a community for him.   No one likes to have decisions made for them, especially not Winston!

It was no surprise that just as in the study, Ruth felt far more comfortable about her move as it was happening.  What was surprising, was that as in the study, both felt their lives were improved in the long run by their move.

The study also discovered something else.  Planners tended to fair significantly better financially as a result of their move.  Interesting.

When it comes to independent living in retirement, are you a Planner or a Reactor?

Even if you don’t intend to execute those plans, being prepared will reduce your stress and enhance the quality of your life if an unexpected accident were to occur.

Moving Forward is equally glad to help clients who have planned ahead and those who are taken by surprise.  Moving is stressful enough without having to deal with all the logistics of planning, packing and unpacking.

Let us bring peace to your move


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