There are many reasons why someone may want to move into a new home at an older age. Perhaps it’s time for a new location after retirement, you’re eager to downsize, or maybe your current home simply isn’t well-suited for your needs.
Whatever the reason, there are certain precautions that seniors should take into account before moving into a new home. After all, while moving is a chance to live somewhere refreshing and new or be closer to family, it also requires the right planning and organization.
If you or a senior you know is preparing for a move to a new home, here are some tips to help make the transition as smooth and safe as possible.
One of the toughest challenges when it comes to moving, particularly as an older adult, is spotting the hidden dangers within a home. No one wants to move into a new place only to find mold, water damage, or worse. Older homes in particular are infamous for having dangers lurking within their walls. For example, a common issue with homes built before the 1980s is the presence of asbestos. Cement, roof shingles, steam pipes, and ceiling and floor tiles can all contain asbestos which is dangerous for anyone, but especially seniors.
The reason why asbestos is so dangerous is that once inhaled, it can burrow into your lungs and cause a slew of health problems, including deadly diseases such as lung cancer. Older homes can also have problems with their foundation due to the wear and tear that comes with age. Having an issue such as damaged support footings in your new home is not only dangerous, it can be expensive to repair.
All of this is not to say that purchasing an older home is a bad idea, rather it’s important to take into consideration the possibility of structural or internal problems that will be difficult for seniors to fix on their own. While it’s not so much of a big deal for younger, working adults to take on a project home, for seniors on fixed incomes or with pre-existing health conditions, the challenge of an older home might not be worth it.
Buy for Longevity
As we age we get to enjoy a lot of perks, such as spending more time with our loved ones, pursuing interests and passions, and, of course, the intellect and wisdom gained by living through several decades. However, there are also new challenges to face, namely with our aging bodies.
When moving houses, take into consideration everyday areas and pathways. This means entryways, porches and decks, and stairs. While these might not seem particularly worthy of concern on your move-in date, how will that change in 10 or 15 years? A one-story might be a better choice or a place with enough space outside to build a ramp leading up to the front door if need be. Looking at the big picture with your new home can help ensure the longevity of your stay and reduce certain risks such as falling.
Learn to Let Go
Decluttering before a move is beneficial for seniors in a number of ways. One reason is, as we get older, chores can become much more difficult to complete, especially when it comes to shuffling around heavy boxes full of knicks-knacks. Staying organized can also be a tougher challenge which actually poses serious health and safety risks for seniors.
According to Maryville University, clutter can greatly impact a senior’s safety and health. For example, it can reduce seniors’ mobility access by getting in the way of canes, walkers, or wheelchairs. Furthermore, clutter on the floors of your home can lead to falls which, as we well know, often causes serious injuries such as broken or fractured bones. Clutter can also block doorways which makes it more difficult for first responders or family to have access to seniors in case of an emergency. Blocked doorways are also a disaster waiting to happen in case of a fire.
Clutter is not just physically dangerous, it also has been shown to lead to higher rates of emotional distress by trapping people into a mentally draining clutter-depression-anxiety cycle. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note, older adults are at an increased risk of experiencing depression due to the chronic illnesses and general pains that come with age.
In order to not compound these emotional and mental stressors, use your next move as the perfect time to declutter and prioritize items. It can be tough letting go of those personal items that you have fond memories. However, think of it as giving your stuff a new place to call home and a chance for someone else to enjoy and make memories with. It will make your move and the proceeding years in your new home a lot easier to manage.
At the end of the day, moving to a new place often has a lot of benefits for seniors. Whether it’s being closer to family or finally living in a space more well-suited for your age and needs, moving opens up a lot of possibilities. When on the hunt for your next home, keep in mind these key factors that could potentially make your new home a serious risk to your health and well-being.