We know it’s all about freedom and independence. And we also know that age is just a number; you’re still you, no matter how many birthday candles you’ve blown out. Getting older isn’t so much about the end of something as it is the beginning of something new. The next stage. What we’re talking about is freedom and independence, and how best to ensure you’re living the life you want, on your terms. The where and how, that’s up to you.
Still, things change. There’s no denying that as we age, our needs become different. What was once a breeze — household chores, running up the stairs, taking care of the everyday — can become a pain, the very things that get in the way of enjoying life. So, if it’s really about freedom, then a change may be in order.
“I wish I’d done this years ago.”
We hear this all the time. It’s the feeling you get when you suddenly realize you’d been limiting your independence simply by sticking with your old ways. You’ve never needed an extra hand before, so why now? And then when you finally get it, you wonder what took you so long. Because now you can get back to what really matters, without the little things getting in the way.
“Retirement is such an outdated term,” says Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing, an international non-governmental organization with its headquarters in Toronto. “There’s no particular age or condition that signifies that a person should move to other accommodation or even require help in their home; it’s all about function and autonomy.”
There are many reasons why you might consider moving, says Dr. Barratt. It may be because your home needs lots of maintenance and upkeep that you cannot manage, or perhaps there are a few safety risks such as steps or an inaccessible shower area. Or maybe your house is just too big and your neighbours have moved away. “For some people, it’s just a matter of adjusting or adapting the home they’re in, while for others it’s about choosing to move into a senior’s residence that provides greater freedom while maintaining their autonomy,” says Dr. Barratt.
Think about how things have changed in the last five to 10 years. Are you still as mobile as you’ve ever been? Are you able to manage your affairs — the shopping and cooking and cleaning and bills? Are you as active as you want to be in your community?
5 Questions for Senior Living
It’s helpful at all stages of our life, but particularly in older age, says Dr. Barratt, to reflect on your health and ask yourself whether where you are living gives you the best opportunity to do what you want. For example:
- Can you comfortably manage your daily personal and care needs?
- Are there any areas of your life where you could use some help to live as independently as possible?
- Are there any risks to your safety or well-being in your home?
- Has your ability to make sound decisions about your own health and well-being changed?
- Are you able to manage your own money?
There are no right or wrong answers. The point is to begin thinking about why a change might actually be a good thing, something to look forward to, not avoid. Take your time here. Talk it out with your kids, your friends. The point is to begin thinking about this now, so that when it comes time to make a decision, you’re not rushed.
What’s Right for You?
Home care. Retirement residence. Long term care. Does this mean someone is going to tell me what to do, or that I can no longer come and go as I please? And what’s it going to cost?
You’ve got questions. It’s confusing. That’s why we created this guide in the first place: to make it all just a little easier to digest. The next chapter is about understanding the various senior living options, helping you think through which might be best for you.