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Moving vs. Age in Place

 January 2014

By Nan Hayes for Caring Transitions

At various stages of life, our home and the possession in it may no longer suit our lifestyle. When this happens, we may choose to move, redecorate or remodel our homes. This “home transition” process is not unusual for mobile executives, young adults with growing families and retiring homeowners. As individuals age into their 80 and even 90’s, changes in their physical, mental and financial status often triggers one more late life home transition.

Establishing short term and long term housing goals can help families plan ahead for large moving or remodeling projects. It is best to consider changes to home and housing as early as possible in order to avoid situations where last minute decisions may wreak havoc on financial and emotional stability.

Today, individuals are fortunate to have many housing choices, including independent living, assisted living, active adult communities and the ability to continue living at home with assistance and safety modifications. Reorganizing, rightsizing and redesign may also serve to make existing home environments comfortable for years to come.

Open and honest discussion among family members becomes an essential first step when trying to determine whether a relocation or “age in place” option is best.

Family meetings with parents, spouse, children, siblings and other key people will help everyone share their views and determine how to proceed. Active and open communication among all family members is the foundation of a strong support system.

Although some of these discussions may become difficult and emotional, several topics should be included in the conversation. Older adults, along with family, should consider:

  • The type of care that may be needed
  • Residential options in the area or preferred geographical area
  • Financial implications
  • Legal implications
  • Changes in lifestyle, socialization, mobility


While a change in an individual’s functionality often initiates a senior move, many folks simply decide they no longer want to stay in a home that is too large or requires a great deal of maintenance. Increasingly, older adults choose to move to a residential setting designed exclusively for seniors. This lifestyle choice provides a number of benefits:

  • Architectural design that maximize safety and security and provide common space for social, recreational and other activities
  • Daily opportunities for social interaction with those who share interests
  • Locations convenient to shopping and other activities, or availability of bus or van transportation
  • Amenities such as guest rooms, fitness centers and recreation programs
  • Availability of health care services that may be needed in the future
  • Provision of a secured environment

Regardless of these benefits, many individuals are overwhelmed at the thought of moving in late life. Fortunately, companies such as Caring Transitions work closely with Senior Living Communities to help manage the entire move process from start to finish. A wide range of services are available including space planning, sorting, downsizing, packing, unpacking, plus van line and real estate referrals, as well as liquidation of personal property through professional estate sale and online auction.

Staying at Home

According to AARP, over 85% of older adults prefer to age in their own homes. Today, there are more agencies and tools available that can make your “stay at home” choice a safer and more achievable reality.

Just as with our moving options, older adults need to evaluate their real needs, finances and community/caregiving resources and then formulate a “stay at home” plan.

If you or an older relative decides to stay in his/her own home or apartment but finds household tasks too overwhelming, or needs assistance with personal or health care issues, an array of home care support services are available in most communities.


Inexpensive, hot nutritious meals are available either through a home delivered meal program, or at a congregate dining site where food can be enjoyed along with the companionship of others.


The opportunity for socialization and recreational activities are provided for older adults at Senior Centers. These centers may also offer legal, financial, and counseling services, and are typically operated by churches, park districts, or the community in which they are located, and often provide transportation.

Household services

Cover minor household repairs, yard work, housekeeping, shopping, meal preparation, assistance with self-administered medications, and personal care. Contacting your local Area Agency on Aging or home health care agencies can help you obtain access to these services.

Friendly visitor and telephone reassurance programs

Provide companionship and someone to check on you or your loved one. Typically, volunteer or religiously affiliated social service agencies are providers of these services.

Adult day services

Provide social and some rehabilitative activities for the frail older person during the day, thereby relieving the caregiver. Long term care facilities, retirement communities, local government, or religious, civic and other groups can operate adult day care centers.

Respite care

For caregivers of frail or disabled older adults, respite care is available for varying amounts of time from a few hours to a few weeks. This service allows family members time away from their caregiving responsibilities. Respite care is available through long term care facilities, home health agencies, and other social service organizations.

Non-Medical Home Care:

Non-medical home care services are becoming a popular alternative to residential care. Non-medical home care includes personal care (bathing, toileting, continence care, lifting, assistance with ambulation, and feeding) homemaking (cooking, laundry, light housekeeping), and companionship (shopping, errands, and incidental transportation).

Agencies may require a minimum number of daily hours, usually 3-4, to help them schedule their caregivers in a cost and time-effective manner. Also, many states now require private duty home care agencies to be licensed or registered to provide personal home care services for older adults and those with disabilities.

Home Health Care

Covers a wide variety of clinical services offered to older adults in the home setting. It includes medical services provided by trained professionals such as nurses or physical therapists. This category of service provides a higher level of skill than the private duty/non- medical care noted above, and fees may be higher as well.

Whether you are a service provider trying to help a client with decisions, an older adult struggling with personal choices or an adult hoping to find the best solutions for mom and dad, frank discussions and pre-planning are the key components of successful home transition.