When conversations begin between a senior and their family about making a moving to a retirement community, the topic is often met with several objections. The last part of the Senior Lifestyle Options Series helps to address the most common objections and also the emotions involved with the entire process.
Objection #1 – I don’t need to move, I am just fine in my home. Generally if the discussion is being had, there is something going on that is predicating the conversation. Maybe it is becoming apparent that the home is becoming too much to care for. Although it was the perfect size for raising a family, it is now too large for just one or two people. It may be that the senior themselves can no longer manage on their own. They are having difficulty managing their own medications or making meals. Things like showering or going down the basement stairs to do laundry just isn’t safe anymore. This objection is often given but may be really coming from objection #2.
Objection #2 – If I give up my home, I give up my independence. This is one of the most common misconceptions when it comes to making a move to a retirement community. All our lives we are taught to go to school, get a good job, have a family and buy your own house. For a senior, they have retired from their job and their family has grown. What is left…their home.
What once was a sign of success and a sanctuary to them, is now a great burden. They use to take pride in their yard and their gardens and now, can no longer push the lawn mower or weed the garden. They have to hire someone else to do it and it isn’t quite the way they like it done. Inside the house, where it used to be cleaned top to bottom every spring and fall, now has dust in the corners and sorely needs painting. Someone can be hired to do all these things but there is great deal to do to coordinate it and then there is the cost involved.
Objection #3 – I’m not moving to “a home.” Today’s senior comes from the generation that you either stayed in your home or moved to a nursing home. When they were caring for their parents, those were the only two options. They don’t realize that now there are so many more options for them. Even the nursing homes of many years ago which were very institutional and hospital-like are very different today. Sometimes the best thing to do is to take them to a retirement community. They may have a friend that has made the decision to make a move. This is often helpful because they too, went through the same emotions and may have had the same objections. Go visit during an open house. It is less threatening than a private appointment and it gives them an opportunity to look around and realized it is not at all what they thought it would be.
Objection #4 – It is cheaper for me to live in my home than it is to move to a retirement community. When today’s senior bought their house, if they had a mortgage payment, it was $100 or $200 per month and that was their biggest expense each month. It is hard from them to imagine paying $2,000 to $4,000 to live in a retirement community. Sometimes the best way to address this is on paper. Begin by writing down all of their expenses. Include the following:
Utilities – Most communities include gas, electric, water, sewer and possibly cable.
Food – Most communities offer one to three meals each day.
Transportation – Most communities offer some type of transportation. The senior can certainly keep their car but if they can no longer drive or decide to give up their car, this service is invaluable. Figure in the cost of car maintenance and insurance and also the cost of alternate transportation such as taxi service or busing. Think about all that is involved in coordinating alternate transportation for doctor’s appointment and shopping. Although there isn’t a dollar figure associated with that, it is a definite consideration.
Housekeeping – Most communities offer weekly or biweekly housekeeping. Even if they currently do not have someone coming in their home to clean, they may need to hire someone in order to remain in their home.
Home Maintenance – This should include day-to-day maintenance from a handyman, as well as major repairs such as roof replacement, painting, appliance replacement, etc.
Lawn Service and Snow Removal – Although this may be only a few hundred dollars per season, it is important to think about what happens if the plowing service hasn’t cleared the driveway yet and you have to get to a appointment. Also the service may not include shoveling a path to the door and it may not be safe for the senior to do it.
School and Property Taxes – Although they are annual, average it out to a monthly cost.
Homeowner’s Insurance – The community may require renter’s insurance however, it is usually a fraction of homeowner’s insurance.
Emergency Response System – Many communities include this service in their fees so you no longer need the system you have or may need.
Entertainment – Retirement communities generally have an activities program with wellness, educational, spiritual and social opportunities. Think about the costs that would be associated with these opportunities.
Homecare/Aide Service – If you are getting assistance in your home with your personal care or medication management, you will want to include this cost especially if you are looking at assisted living.
Besides the dollar amount associated with each of these expenses, you need to think about what goes beyond these costs. It includes the peace of mind knowing that you don’t have to worry about these things anymore. Can you put a dollar amount on that? Most seniors today either lived through the depression or experienced the immediate affects from it. It was ingrained in them to save, save, save, for a rainy day. Now is the rainy day.
These all may be typical objections that are raised but it really is about the emotions involved. It is fear of the unknown and having to face that it isn’t as easy to do things anymore. It is the feeling that if they need help, they are going to lose control of their independence. But it is necessary to step back and look at the little independence they have as they struggle in their home.
The sooner you begin to think about senior living options, the better. It may take some time to get through the objections and get to a point of moving forward. Don’t wait until it is a crisis before thinking about or discussing the options. You don’t want to be in a position that someone else is making the decisions. You want to empower yourself with everything you need to make an informed decision.