Aging often means downsizing

Lee Schmidt

As I creep closer to 60 and my youngest is completing her last year of high school, my wife and I have had more than one conversation about downsizing. Soon our little girl will be off to college and we certainly won’t need four bedrooms, three bathrooms or the pool for just the two of us. Less house, less maintenance, lower utility costs and more time to travel are all high on our list. It seems to be the American way; we start with an apartment, upgrade to our first home, start having kids, need a larger and then another larger home. Then one by one the kids move out and we start the cycle again, only in reverse.
According to the Department of Health and Social Services, “Administration of Aging”:
• The older population (65-plus) numbered 43.1 million in 2012, an increase of 7.6 million or 21 percent since 2002.
• The number of Americans aged 45-64—who will reach 65 during the next two decades—increased by 24 percent between 2002 and 2012.
• About one in every seven—13.7 percent of the population—is an older American.
• Persons reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 19.2 years (20.4 years for females and 17.8 years for males).
• Older women outnumber older men at 24.3 million older women to 18.8 million older men.
It’s apparent we are an aging population and there are many like myself who are graying and considering downsizing our primary residence. Statistics tell us that most of us will move a number of times as our situations and needs change.
What are our options?
First is simply a smaller home with less house and yard to maintain. Other options could include townhomes and condos.
Second are the age-restricted “active adult” communities such as Del Webb, Sun City or the Villages in San Jose. In these communities you purchase a single family home or condo in a gated, age-restricted development that offers amenities such as golf, tennis, social clubs and more. They charge HOA (home owner association) fees for those services, which often include security, landscaping maintenance and, in some cases, exterior maintenance of your home.
Morgan Hill and Gilroy have a few smaller age-restricted developments with a limited scope of amenities. There are plans by Del Webb to build a new community of 1,000-plus homes in the San Juan Canyon area of Hollister in the next year or two. Active adult communities are perfect for those who are physically able and want an active lifestyle without the responsibility of maintaining a home.
The next milestone is the point at which maintaining the interior of our own home is too much. What then?
Your next option is independent living apartments. We have toured a number of these communities and many are like living in a luxury resort. You have your own private apartment, with your own furnishings, plus the added benefit of an all-inclusive lifestyle. Meals are included, along with lots of activities, excursions and the freedom to come and go as you wish. This is truly zero maintenance because they also provide weekly housekeeping and laundry service.
Another option is assisted living: In assisted living, you still have all the features of independent living plus the added benefit of access to nurses and daily living assistance. Some communities offer more extensive medical and personal services.
The last option is Alzheimer’s and dementia care. These facilities specialize in caring for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s and offer programs that address residents’ needs and provide an environment where they can live safely. They typically include personal care, such as bathing, dressing and administering medicine, along with dining, housing and housekeeping.
There are some communities that offer all three levels of service. A person can begin in independent living, add the assisted living element when needed and move to memory care if the need arises.
We have more choices and better options than ever before. As we mature, we can downsize from our larger home to smaller homes or condos, or graduate to an active adult community if that fits our lifestyle. We can spend time doing things that really matter and bring us the most joy.
As for me, I certainly prefer my daughters’ softball games, a grandchild’s dance recital or an outing with my wife more than painting the garage or cleaning the pool. Maybe it is time to downsize.


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