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A Move You Didn't Count On

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

Today I welcome Susan Gardner as a contributing author on a series of articles about moving. Whether you're moving cross-country to "be closer to the grandkids," finally going to your dream home, or finally going to a retirement community, you have to move. As our author would say, you get to "pick up every single item and put it somewhere else." Susan's expertise in this area is hard won. Enjoy this series.

-Ed Zinkiewicz

I invite you to remember Mother Harris from the first article in this series. Widowed young, she began living with her son and caring for their young children. Later she voluntarily moved twice to ease the lives of her son and his family and to maintain autonomy and independence. Before the family could become concerned about her care, she addressed the issues preemptively, thus staying in charge of her living arrangements despite the changes aging brought.

Others, facing similar circumstances, could make different choices, including leaving such decisions until a crisis forces the decision. Think, for example, of the older adult who will not even consider moving. Aging in place is fine for now, but her physical mobility could easily become compromised. At that point what will the family do? Living with them is not a choice because their bedrooms and bathrooms are upstairs. Despite the loved one’s desires, they have no alternative but to move her.

Considerations and Conversations

The health of the individual is one of several factors to consider. Also important are the needs of the caregivers who may be “sandwiched” between the demands of caring for aging parents and simultaneously providing for growing children or teens. They may struggle balancing their own employment in that mix, as well. As things like grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and getting to doctors and so on become more difficult for the older adult, digging heels in and fighting change exacerbates situations, creating unintended costs to relationships. Beforehand, it is good as a family to talk about and look at options.

Change is the constant in aging, and resisting seems natural. Before allowing resistance to harm relationships or to limit possibilities, having frank conversations may be called for to explore such feelings as in these questions:

  • Is my resistance to moving increasing tension?

  • Will changing where I live let me put my physical strength into more enjoyable endeavors?

  • Am I afraid that a move signals giving up on my future?