There are two absolutes that often define how we see ourselves: driving and housing. Both may need to change as we age. It is a real toss-up which is harder to deal with, but the one we can assert the greatest control over is housing.

A home can be more than a castle; it may be a refuge, the repository of a lifetime of memories and mementoes, the hub of our social network and support system, and the place we simply feel most comfortable.

It should be no surprise that we hang on and even struggle mightily to stay in that home, even if the neighborhood has changed, the upkeep is beyond our means, and people we knew have moved or passed away.

But the battle to stay in place conflicts with the holistic values of Aging in Place, if it doesn’t take into account quality of life. Some questions need to be asked, “Is this sustainable? Is life here the best life now and in the future?” If the answers come back “no” then it could be time to transition to another home.

If a move is going to happen, the sooner it is accomplished the more successful it will be. Moving sooner rather than later gives us more control of our choices. It also affords a greater opportunity for a positive, proactive adjustment to the new residence.

Where to go is probably the toughest decision, next to the decision to move at all. Will it be from the country to the city, or from a house to a condo? Is renting is the better option? What about relocation to another state or climate? Maybe an adult community or assisted living is most appropriate.

This is a complex transition. Reaching out for support from family and friends is crucial. It might also be a good time for consulting with financial and legal professionals.

How to get there brings in more professionals, people who specialize in assisting retirees with things like buying and selling homes. Financing options for the next property include paying cash, a traditional mortgage or a reverse mortgage.

Empty Nesters have lots of choices and decisions to make. Downsizing can help enhance quality of life, simplify things, increase available wealth, or settle us into a new phase of life. This may also be a wonderful chance to distribute possessions in a way that insures our memories will live on in the homes and hearts of loved ones. Facing decisions and choices as early as possible assures the greatest success as we strive to insure a long and happy retirement.

Aging in Place, it doesn’t happen by accident.

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About the author

Scott Funk has specialized in Home Equity Conversion Mortgage reverse mortgages for over a decade. He is a recognized Aging in Place advocate in his home state of Vermont. His monthly newspaper column Aging in Place has run for 7 years in 24 papers around the state. Scott is brings a lighthearted approach to his talks on Boomers, retirement and aging on purpose.