Residential Moving

A new chapter: Exploring moving options available for older adults

By Steve Gurney, Founder, Positive Aging Community

Moving can be stressful, especially for older adults, so the sooner you develop a plan, the smoother the process will go. Now is a good time to start conversations with the seniors in your life about their relocation needs and desires – and what the budget may be for these relocation needs.

To help you get started, this post summarizes the moving options available to older adults. When it’s time to relocate, most seniors do one of the following:

Move in with adult children

Multigenerational family in one homeA study from the PEW Research Center found that multigenerational households are on the rise. And not simply due to children moving back into their parents’ home. Although it is common for seniors to live alone in the United States, an increasing percentage of older adults are moving in with their children or relatives. The trend in “shared living” is likely to continue as many adult children take on caregiving duties for senior parents.

However, inviting a parent to live with you can be difficult. Before you commit, you should establish what it means to live together and how it will affect the household when she moves in. This AARP post, “Considering Moving Your Loved One into Your Home?” is a great resource, with a step-by-step process and key questions to ask before making the move.

Move to a smaller home

When seniors move to a smaller home, the decision is often financially driven. If they own a home, equity in the property is often a source of stable retirement income and a safety net. For these reasons, most seniors who own homes rarely move unless external reasons cause them to relocate, according to a report from the Center for Retirement Research. The report found that seniors often age-in-place unless they face a financial shock. In such a case, they might sell their home to generate immediate cash. Then, older adults may purchase a smaller home or move into a rental unit.

Still, some seniors prefer to move to a smaller home, regardless of financial situation. For example, upon retirement, they might want to live in a different geographic area, either to be in closer proximity to their children and grandchildren or for warmer weather.

Move to an independent living community

The PEW Research Center also found that on average, older adults spend over half their waking hours alone. Spending time alone isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but some studies suggest that social isolation is a risk factor for mortality. Moving to an independent living community can counteract the effects of loneliness, providing seniors an opportunity to interact with others.

Independent living community yogaBy offering a structured environment, independent living communities promote social living without curtailing seniors’ independence. They offer amenities, such as organized outings, transportation services, fitness programs, volunteer opportunities, and more. All of these activities help their residents keep busy. And that’s a good thing because seniors with active social lives are happier.

Move to an assisted living community

Assisted living communities are similar to independent living communities, in terms of providing social opportunities and amenities to residents. However, assisted living communities offer extensive support services to older adults who need additional care. For example, staff at assisted living communities are available to help your loved one with dressing, bathing, housekeeping, and other daily activities, if needed. Residents still maintain a sense of independence and continue to have active social lives, but they’re surrounded by support as they age.

Move to specialized care communities

If your loved one suffers from dementia or has other long-term acute health needs, it may be time to move to a specialized care community, dedicated to comforting and supporting residents with acute needs.

The journey of helping older adults transition to a new home is a significant one that requires careful consideration. By starting conversations early and understanding the various options available will help you to make informed decisions that prioritize the wellbeing and happiness of your loved ones.

About the Author

Today, we are joined by guest author, Steve Gurney from PositiveAging Community. In 1990, Steve founded PositiveAging Sourcebook, a comprehensive listing of every retirement community, assisted living, nursing and rehab center, and home care options in DC, Northern Virginia, and Suburban Maryland. The PositiveAging Community makes finding housing, aging in place solutions, and resources more convenient by connecting older adults, families, and providers via the most comprehensive and trusted resources in print and digital formats.