This is an ongoing series of posts by Dr. Ann Meyerson about assisting clients through a real estate transition. Dr. Meyerson specializes in senior transition, but has been doing work recently on clients with hoarding issues. Read Ann’s other posts here.
When I work with elderly clients in transition, I try to help them focus on what matters to them. The big issues like where to relocate, when to put the current home on the market and the total financial considerations are key. Often, these decisions are made in conjunction with family members, professional advisers and medical support. For the individual in transition, it can feel that they are not really in control, and this may well be the case.
Recently, I met with an octogenarian, Mary, who was relocating to an independent living community in another state to be near her adult children. She explained to me that she really didn’t want to go but had no choice. I listened and we talked about why the move realistically had to be made. She was currently living alone, no longer driving and becoming more isolated; being close to family and the support they could offer her was an important factor in the transition.
The conversation then shifted to what she was going to take with her to the new community. Part of the service that I provide as a transition counselor is to help my clients prepare for the move. Mary showed me the furniture she wanted and questioned which couch would fit. She also pointed out the memorabilia and artwork that she planned to send to her family members living in various parts of the country. We decided to wait until the requested floor plan arrived to finalize her decisions about what to keep. This process was empowering because these were choices very much within her control.
Going through Mary’s wardrobe was also important. She initially said that she had no interest in taking any of her better dresses with her. I questioned whether this was wise since she might have need for them in her new surroundings. This also led to some further exploration of what she anticipated socially after the transition. It was enjoyable for both of us and Mary reminisced about where she had worn various dresses and which she liked best. After consideration, she identified two outfits that she could possibly wear to her grandson’s graduation this summer after the move. These were choices that only Mary could make for herself and she smiled during the selection process.