Emotions Involved in Moving to a Retirement Community

The Emotions Involved in Making a Move

When conversations begin between a senior and their family about moving to a retirement community, the topic is often met with several objections. This last part of the Senior Lifestyle Options Series addresses the most common objections to making a lifestyle change and the emotions involved with the entire process.

Objection #1 I don’t need to move, I am just fine in my home.

Generally, if the topic of making a lifestyle change comes up, something has been going on that is predicating the conversation. Maybe it is becoming apparent that the home is becoming too much to care for. Although it was the perfect size for raising a family, it is now too large for just one or two people. It may be that the senior themselves can no longer manage on their own. They are having difficulty managing their medications or making meals. Things like showering or going down the basement stairs to do laundry just aren’t safe anymore. This objection is the one we most often hear, but it may be really coming from objection #2. 

Objection #2 – If I give up my home, I give up my independence. 

This is one of the most common misconceptions when it comes to making a move to a retirement community. All our lives we are taught to go to school, get a good job, have a family and buy your own house. In the case of a senior –  this is usually someone who has retired from their job and their family has grown. What is left? Their home. What once was a sign of success and a sanctuary has slowly become a burden, even if they sometimes don’t realize it. They used to take pride in their yard and their gardens, but now they can no longer push the lawn mower or weed the garden. They have to hire someone else to do it and it isn’t done quite the way they like. Inside the house, where it used to be cleaned top to bottom every spring and fall, dust has settled in the corners and it sorely needs painting. Someone can be hired to do all these things, but there is great deal to do to coordinate that…and then there is the cost involved. 

Objection #3 – I’m not moving to “a home.”

Today’s senior comes from the generation that sees two options: you either stay in your home or go to a nursing home. When they were caring for their parents, those were the only two choices. They don’t realize that now there are so many more options for them. Even the nursing homes of many years ago, which were institutional and hospital-like, are very different today. The best thing to do, if at all possible, is to take them to personally visit a retirement community so they can see it for themselves and oftentimes speak with people who live there. In some cases, they have a friend that has made the decision to make a move. It is often helpful to have them discuss things with that person knowing they have gone through the same emotions and may have had the same objections. Another option is to visit during an open house. This is usually less threatening than a private appointment and gives them an opportunity to look around and ask questions. 

Objection #4 – It is cheaper for me to live in my home than it is to move to a retirement community.

When today’s senior bought their house, if they had a mortgage payment, it was $100 or $200 per month and that was their biggest expense each month. It is hard for them to imagine paying $2,000 to $4,000 to live in a retirement community. The best way to address this is usually by writing down all of their expenses. Be sure to include the following:

  • Utilities – Most communities include gas, electric, water, sewer and possibly cable.
  • Food – Most communities offer one to three meals each day.
  • Transportation – Most communities offer some type of transportation. The senior can certainly keep their car but, if they can no longer drive or decide to give up their car, this service is invaluable. Figure in the cost of car maintenance and insurance and also the cost of alternate transportation, such as a taxi service or busing. Think about all that is involved in coordinating alternate transportation for doctor’s appointments and shopping. Although there isn’t a dollar figure associated with these things, the time, stress, and inconvenience involved is definitely worth considering.
  • Housekeeping – Most communities offer weekly or biweekly housekeeping services. Even if the senior currently does not have someone coming in their home to clean, they may need to hire someone down the road in order to remain in their home.
  • Home Maintenance – This should include day-to-day maintenance from a handyman, as well as major repairs such as roof replacement, painting, appliance replacement, etc.
  • Lawn Service and Snow Removal – Although this may be only a few hundred dollars per season, it is important to think about what happens if the plowing service hasn’t cleared the driveway yet and, for example, the senior has to get to an appointment. Also, the service may not include shoveling a path to the door and it may not be safe for the senior to shovel or walk through the ice and snow.
  • School and Property Taxes – Although they are annual, average it out to a monthly cost.
  • Homeowner’s Insurance – The community may require renter’s insurance; however, it is usually a fraction of homeowner’s insurance.
  • Emergency Response System – Many communities include this service in their fees so you no longer need the system you currently have or may need.
  • Entertainment – Retirement communities generally have activities programs that include wellness, educational, spiritual, and social opportunities. Think about the costs and availability associated with these opportunities outside of a community setting.
  • Homecare/Aide Service – If the senior is receiving assistance in their home with personal care or medication management, you will want to include this cost, especially if you are looking at assisted living.

In addition to the dollar amounts associated with each of these expenses, it is important to consider factors that go beyond these costs. This includes peace of mind knowing that you and the senior don’t have to worry about these things anymore. Can you put a dollar amount on that? Most seniors today have either lived through or experienced the immediate affects of the Great Depression. The philosophy of save, save, save for a rainy day is ingrained in them. Now is their rainy day.

We have spent a bit of time addressing typical objections that are likely to be raised. It’s important to remember that these objections are all related to the emotional effect of considering a move. It is fear of the unknown and having to face the fact that that it isn’t as easy to do things anymore. It is the fear of losing control over their independence if they admit they need help.  What they aren’t seeing, most likely, is the independence they have already given up while struggling to stay in their home.

In conclusion, we’d like to reiterate that the sooner you begin to think about senior living options, the better. By beginning the discussion now and doing your research, you will be in a position to make the best decision when the time comes and, especially, should an emergency arise. You want to empower yourself with everything you need to make an informed decision and not have to rely on others to make these decisions for you.

The GreenFields Continuing Care Community is located at 5949-5979 Broadway in Lancaster, offering independent living apartments at GreenField Manor and assisted living apartments at GreenField Court. The GreenField Health & Rehabilitation Center provides skilled nursing care, inpatient rehabilitation services and outpatient therapy. GreenField Terrace provides enhanced assisted living and memory care. To get help working through the objections, or to learn more about what The GreenFields has to offer, call the Senior Living Department at (716) 684-8400.

Hear this topic as presented on WBEN radio.


The GreenFields resident



5959 Broadway
Lancaster, NY 14086

The Niagara Lutheran Health System does not discriminate in the admittance of residents or the hiring of employees relative to age, race, creed, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, sexual preference gender, gender identity, blindness, handicap, sponsor, marital status, or religion.

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