As a Realtor I can’t tell you how many women come to my open houses and tell me they know they need to downsize but “My husband is not ready”. He will never be ready ladies.
Accepting your golden years is a shock. You still feel pretty good and because it’s so incremental you really have forgotten how much stronger, energetic and durable you were 10 or 20 years ago. It seems reasonable that you can keep going. And since your bones don’t report in on their declining density, or your joints don’t announce a tear, you are pretty sure you are bullet proof.
But then the doc puts you on a blood thinner, or your blood pressure medicine makes you a little dizzy and while you clean those gutters you take a spill. Or your ability to pivot has lessened and stumbling over a wet towel ends up with a broken ankle. A friend dropped a knife on her foot and then lost her balance trying to pour peroxide on the cut over the toilet. She fell backward and broke her arm. Moments before she was happily making Coq au Vin. Now she needs in home care as with one arm she can’t drive, cook, open the mail, take care of her husband’s med, etc.
Then these women are forced to downsize, pack and move 30 years of accumulated possession while caretaking the hubby who now recognizes he is past the home of home repairs and maintenance.
I see this every single weekend. The women don’t want to push or nag, the husband doesn’t want to leave the familiar or tackle the move, but they know the big house is too much and it’s time to downsize.
I urge couples to do it when they are strong and 100% in charge. Once an injury occurs, adult kids get involved or medical issues complicate the move and everything is 2X harder.
The other dynamic I see is that by selling that big house now it allows Mom and Dad to assist kids or grandkids now with a firm footing on their own home, pay off college debt or Mom and Dad to take a dream vacation. Why wait and pass wealth to adult kids who will be in their 70s when you pass in your 90s? Pass the largess now while you can enjoy seeing your assistance in your lifetime.
The big elephant in the room is accepting that however great you feel, or look, life in your 70s and 80s is different. A friend said to me over dinner once, “70 may be the new 60, but 80 is still 80!” This, after a long day of yard work. He is 70 and decided he was done doing it himself now. They plan to ‘rightsize’ their housing!
Here are some facts from Comfort Keepers, experts in Senior In-home Care.
- 87 percent of all fractures in the elderly are due to falls. Two-thirds of those who fall will do so again within six months.
- When an older person falls, his or her hospital stays are almost twice as long as those of other patients who are admitted for any other reason.
- Among people aged 65 to 69, one out of every 200 falls results in a hip fracture. That number increases to one out of every 10 for those aged 85 and older.
- One-fourth of seniors who fracture a hip from a fall will die within six months of the injury.
- Many falls do not result in injuries, yet 47 percent of non-injured seniors who fall cannot get up without assistance.
Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness. The most profound effect of falling is the loss of independent living.