A few years ago, a work colleague told me about helping her mother move into an independent living facility. One day my friend mentioned to her mother that she should have fewer knickknacks as they just gather dust. Her mother replied: “I didn’t come here to dust!” I think that summarizes how I felt when I moved after retirement.
I planned my retirement to include getting away from all the stresses of work. My work supervisor asked if I would be willing to act as a consultant after I retired. I said: “No, when I retire I am just going to be retired. I have so many things I haven’t had time to do while I was working and now I will do them.”
I sold my house and moved to a new location closer to my children and grandchildren. I chose a townhouse in a senior living community where there is a maintenance crew, a landscape crew and a clubhouse for activities.
We don’t have a “dining room” or other facilities like one would find in assisted living. This is the same as living in any community except the people are mainly over 55 and we don’t own our own units. Some neighbors are still employed though most are now retired. I decided fairly early on that I was not going to keep working as hard around the house as I did while I was employed. I had thought I might do more gardening after retirement, but I found it was difficult for me to work on the ground now that I am older. In fact, I do less gardening than before. I still have some flowers and tomatoes but not as much work as before. The landscapers maintain the lawn and the shrubs and we can plant annuals if we wish.
In addition, I kept thinking about what my friend’s mother said. I didn’t come here to dust either! I came to relax and enjoy my retirement. I have a housekeeper come once or twice a month to do regular cleaning for me so I can focus on other things. I had thought I would be busy with my hobbies and my family (children and grandchildren). But as it worked out, a great deal of my time has been spent caring for mom and dad.
It was part of my plan to be nearer to mom and dad so I could spend more time with them while they were still around. I am grateful that mom lived long enough for me to spend several years visiting her much more than the annual 2 weeks of vacation that I had before. I am thankful that dad is still around and that I can spend time with him. One could say that caring for him keeps me from the things I would be doing. But, in fact, one of my main goals was to have time to spend with him while he is among the living.
I am thankful that I was able to retire to a community like mine. I was able to leave my home for 5 months to care for mom and dad without worrying about my house. Instead the owners of the community could check in on my house and my son was able to check in weekly for my mail. I knew everything was being maintained while I was gone.
Another aspect of my move to a senior community is that I have already downsized to a great degree. I left a house with more living space and consolidated my belongings to fit in a smaller space while moving nearer to my children. As I get older I am already close to my children. It will not be necessary for them to help me clean out and sell my house when I am no longer able to do so. It is done.
At some point when I need more help, it would be an easy step to move on to an assisted living facility. I see that as a long time away. But I hope my children will find it easier to assist me than it was for me to assist mom and dad. I hope by planning ahead that I have taken away some of the worries they would have had about caring for me from afar.
As I have watched over mom and dad I have made other changes in my life as well. I have already prepared my will and powers of attorney. Now if anything happens to me, legal papers are already in place for my children to take care of my legal and financial affairs. I hope to take what I have learned these past few years and use it to prepare myself and my children for the future.