Retirement begins a new chapter in life. It is a time when older adults typically enjoy more freedom and flexibility. One question that often arises soon after retiring is how necessary and practical it is to remain in the family home. While a lot of space may have served you well when you were raising kids, the maintenance and financial upkeep can put a crimp in retirement plans.
Sometimes a senior will move to a smaller home or a condominium. Others move to an apartment or villa that’s part of a retirement community. Wherever they choose to move to, most are surprised to find how much joy comes from rightsizing their lifestyle.
Rightsizing is a term aging professionals coined to refer to the process of aligning your goals for the future with your home space needs. For example, do you still need a big house? Or would a small home, where you are free from the burdens and financial demands of maintaining a large home, be better?
How to Downsize Your Home during Retirement
The process usually begins with decluttering and rehoming items you no longer want or need. If you are considering moving to a smaller home or a senior living community in the months or years ahead, cleaning out your closets, basement, attic, and garage now helps ensure a smoother transition.
So, how can you get started? We have some useful suggestions:
- Start with the easy stuff: Unless you are fastidiously organized, it will help to make a quick pass through every room to eliminate obvious clutter. Keep a trash bag and a box with you. Throw away items you don’t need and can’t give away. Pack items you want to donate in the box as you go. Remember, this isn’t a deep cleaning. It’s just a warm up lap around the house to get started.
- Purge paper goods: Most of us accumulate a shocking amount of paper products around the house. The longer you’ve lived there, the worse it usually is. Old catalogs and magazines, outdated utility bills and credit card statements, and unneeded receipts are a few common types. Shred items with identifying personal information and recycle or dispose of everything else.
- Prevent junk mail: Another battle many households face is keeping up with junk mail. In just a few days, it can really pile up. You can cut down on the amount you receive by signing up for the National Do Not Mail List. Though time-consuming, it also helps to email catalog companies directly and request they remove your name and address from their mailing list.
- Clean closets: Closets often harbor clothing, shoes, and accessories that haven’t been worn in years. Apply the 12-month rule to every item in your closet. If you haven’t worn or used something in the last year, you probably won’t do so ever again. The only exception might be formal wear and seasonal accessories. Donate everything to a local shelter or nonprofit resale shop.
- Pare down linens: Like clothing, linens can accumulate easily. Be honest with yourself about how many sets of sheets and towels you really need. The same holds true for old sets of curtains, blankets, tablecloths, and placemats.
- Scale back holiday décor: Whether it is patriotic decorations, Thanksgiving décor, or Christmas ornaments, seasonal items often take up a lot of space. Many of us periodically buy new without getting rid of the old. This is another area where you need to sort through every box and be realistic about the future use of every item. Veterans’ centers, day care centers, preschools, and women’s shelters usually appreciate receiving these types of gently used donations.
One final tip is to frequently drop off donations to the charity of your choice. Waiting until you finish a room or two can easily result in items finding their way back into a closet or drawer.
Selling Your Home during Retirement
If you or a senior loved one has decided to sell your home, we have some tips to help make the process a little easier. How to Prepare a Senior’s Home to Sell covers topics ranging from starting early to making inexpensive updates to increase the selling price.
Should you have questions about senior living, we encourage you to call the Heritage community nearest you. We’ll be happy to help!
My parents are both almost 86 years old. They live alone in an older home with a considerable amount of property. Because they live over an hour away, it’s difficult for me to visit as often as they need.
They’ve managed fairly well on their own until recently. My dad has had a couple of bad falls. The last time he fell, my mom had to call a neighbor for help. I know the risk of serious injury is high for older adults and how important it is to try to prevent falls.
My husband and I have decided our first step will be convincing my parents to hire a home care agency to help. We are hoping if they get comfortable accepting assistance, they might be more willing to move to a senior living community in a few years.
Do you have any advice for talking with my parents? I’m not sure how to start this conversation.
Colette in Midland, MI
Talking with Parents about Senior Care
It sounds like you’ve thought this through and are on the right track! But I know that doesn’t make it easier. Starting a conversation about senior care with a parent can make you feel uneasy. Adult children often delay bringing up the topic to avoid upsetting an elder they love.
In some cases, families don’t have a serious talk about the future until an accident or illness forces the discussion. If you wait until a crisis occurs, it will likely be even more stressful. A crisis may also force you to rush through the process of exploring your options. You are less likely to make an informed choice under duress.
A few tips to help you initiate a conversation about care are:
- Do your homework: Talk with a few home care agencies and even two or three senior living communities. You’ll feel more confident having a conversation with your parents when you better understand senior care as a whole.
- Be mindful: When you are frightened about a loved one’s safety, it’s easy to become forceful and seem unsympathetic. That will likely put your parents on the defensive, especially if they aren’t receptive to making this change. By demonstrating patience and empathy, you might be able to open the dialogue.
- Talk often: Despite how much an adult child might want the conversation to be quick and easy, it usually isn’t. In most circumstances, it will take a series of discussions over a few weeks or months.
- Start small: If your parents are resistant, it might help to start small and find some middle ground. Will your father agree to wear an emergency alert pendant or watch? Maybe they would agree to a few hours of assistance with chores that might be a little riskier for them, such as laundry, grocery shopping, and taking out the trash.
- Enlist their physician: It may also help if your parents’ primary care physician can join the discussion. If it’s time for a physical or if your father needs follow-up from his fall, seek the doctor’s input. Their influence might be what your parents need to hear to agree to make some changes.
I hope this information is useful to you, Colette! Best of luck to you and your parents.
About Heritage Senior Communities
For four generations, Heritage Senior Communities has been a family-owned and -operated company. We are dedicated to providing older adults with quality senior housing and licensed assisted living. With communities throughout Michigan and one in Indiana, we are one of the Midwest’s most trusted names in senior living.
We encourage you to call the community nearest you if the need for independent living, assisted living, or memory care should arise!
Grandmothers play important roles in all of our lives. They are our confidante, our side kick on adventures, and some of the people who love us most in the world. Today we’re helping you plan a Mother’s Day gift that will really wow that extra-special lady—grandma!
Here are 7 ways to celebrate the grandmothers in your life this Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Grandma
- Custom puzzles
This is not just a fun activity. Putting together a puzzle can actually help reduce the risk of dementia as well as slow down its progression. This goes for most mind games and puzzles. For Mother’s Day, choose a favorite picture of the grandkids and upload it to a picture printing site. The puzzle can be shipped to you or directly to grandma as a sweet surprise.
- Give her a book
71% of seniors say that one of their favorite daily activities is reading, so what better gift than a book? If she has a favorite genre, there’s a clear choice. If not, you can give her a book written and illustrated by the grandkids. She’ll read it over and over again.
- Donate in her honor
What do you give the matriarch who has everything? Maybe give to someone less fortunate in her honor. If she’s an animal lover, make a donation to the local animal shelter. Or what about the local soup kitchen? Whatever her interests, there’s a charity you can donate to. And this doesn’t have to be a surprise. Tell grandma your plans and write down her interests or her favorite charities. You can pick one that you both support, or even her top three.
- Instead of flowers, succulents!
These plants are similar to a cactus and are the darlings of the flora family right now. Very trendy and easy to care for, succulents come in a variety of shapes and colors. Plan a terrarium party with the whole family—have everyone pick a glass container, soil, and succulents of their choosing.
Bring some seashells, small twigs, or other tiny objects to make decorating fun and expressive. You’ll all have fun as you create and get your daily dose of nature. And succulents just need a little bit of water once a week. Your grandma will appreciate this low-maintenance addition to her home.
- Homemade cards from the grandkids
Save some money and keep the kids occupied for the afternoon, all while creating something thoughtful for their grandmother. Supplies can be simple: colored papers, markers or crayons, scissors, glue, and anything the little ones want to decorate with. If their grandmother’s house is now in a senior living community, the kids can also make some extra cards for the other grandmas there, too.
- Mail a hug
If the grandmother in your family lives far away, mail her a hug! Yes, really—trace the outline of your kids’ hands on a piece of paper and cut them out. Then, cut a long piece of string and glue one end of the string to one hand and the other end to the other hand. This little project is quick, easy to mail, and can make even the longest of distances feel shorter.
- Plan an outing
While senior living communities plan abundant social events and special outings for their residents, it is still important for a senior’s family to stay involved and plan events specifically for their loved one. It might be a family outing to the movies or a special lunch outing for the whole family. You could also plan a picnic at a local park. Sunshine makes everyone happy.
Mother’s Day When a Senior Has Dementia
Keep in mind, if you’re visiting a senior loved one who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia that it is important to try to keep her schedule as consistent as possible. Plan your Mother’s Day celebration around her best and worst times of day.
If you are looking for a meaningful Mother’s Day gift a senior loved one and the entire family will appreciate, consider creating a family cookbook. Several generations can work together to create a permanent keepsake to treasure. It can be as simple or as detailed as you’d like.
Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Tips for Developing a Family Cookbook
- Gather recipes: Reach out to family and friends who you would like to include in the cookbook. Would you like to limit it to multiple recipes from your immediate family? Or are you hoping to have fewer recipes but from a broader network of loved ones? The first step in creating your cookbook is determining how many recipes it will include.
- Consider your budget: Determine how much you will have to spend on the project. Will you be financing it entirely on your own, or are other family members able to pitch in? Even if funds are limited, you’ll still be able to create a cookbook. It will just be a simple version.
Once you’ve determined your cookbook’s scope and budget, you can explore your options. There are a variety of online resources that allow you to add photos, recipes, embellishments, and more to your personal cookbook. Some helpful websites are:
- Shutterfly: This site makes it easy to develop cookbooks in a variety of sizes. You can also opt for softcover or hardcover books. Prices begin at under $10 a book.
- Heritage Cookbook: Another budget-friendly option, Heritage allows you to create cookbooks in a variety of formats. They range from plastic coil or wire bound to softcover and hardcover. Each book can hold about 60 recipes. A minimum order of four is required with a starting price of $11.25 a book.
- Create My Cookbook: From gifts to fundraisers, this site allows you to put together your own cookbook. They even have an ebook option. You can buy books individually or in bulk.
- Snapfish: You can easily create a softbound or hardbound cookbook for under $13 using this online program. It’s available in two different sizes with up to 150 pages.
Whatever platform you decide to utilize, the result will be a family heirloom you’ll all treasure for years.
If you are looking for other gift ideas to honor the senior women in your life on Mother’s Day, we have some you might want to consider. Mother’s Day Gifts Ideas for Grandma has suggestions for splurge and sentimental gifts, as well as those to support wellness and life-long learning.
Learn More about Heritage Senior Communities
If you or a senior loved one is interested in senior living in Michigan or Indiana, we invite you to consider Heritage. Call the community nearest you to learn more today!