Older adults who relocate usually do so as a
result of life opportunities (such as retirement), life changes (such as
widowhood), and health changes. Most older adults prefer to "age in
place" or stay in their current home and neighborhood. Seniors usually
move to locations that are perceived as highly desirable and have other
older adults in close proximity. Not all such moves are to warmer
climates, as some older adults relocate to retirement communities or
choose to remain in the same community.
Factors that influence the decisions of
older adults to move include the following:
- Distance from family and friends.
- Continuity of lifestyle, culture,
- Access to amenities such as
recreation, health, and leisure activities.
- Familiarity with the region or
Types of Moves
There are usually three types of moves
that occur for older adults. Each is often affected by the adult's
health and mobility as well as other factors.
The first move tends to occur primarily
among married older people in their sixties who are healthy and have
adequate retirement incomes. Retirement frees adults from having to live
near places of employment. The motivation for the move may be to leave
the negative features of the former residence, as well as to be close to
the attractive features of the new residence, such as better climate,
facilities, and services. Friendships with adults who have already moved
may be another motivation. Ties with family are often maintained at a
distance through periodic visits and telephone/letter contacts.
The second move is usually at a time when
adults have a chronic disability that creates difficulty in carrying out
everyday household tasks, such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, and
taking care of finances. The move is usually closer to family for
The third move occurs as a result of a
severe illness or disability that requires more care than can be
provided in the home by family members, homemaker service, nursing care
service, or adult day care. This move is usually to an assisted living
Each of these moves requires adjustments.
Adjusting to Relocation
Each relocation requires several
adjustments. Questions must be answered concerning several life changes:
- Should I relocate?
- Where will I relocate?
- Who will take care of my business
and legal affairs?
- Will I overcome my regrets about
Adapting to a new environment requires
the adult to establish new friendships, new routines, and new physical
environment. The adult must relate this new environment to their total
life experience and their purpose for life. Many positive reactions
occur due to the move, however, it is the negative responses that may be
a surprise. Some of these emotional reactions may include:
- Idealization of the new or lost
- Anger or depression.
- Confusion, illness, or grief.
The degree of adjustment to a new home
may depend on the older adult's experiences in planning for the move,
their perception of the new environment, and how comfortable they feel
in the new environment.
Formal and Informal Community Services
Community services for older adults who
move range from formal to informal depending upon their physical and
mental functioning and ability. The community support services for the
independent older adult include: home-delivered meals; home maintenance;
homemaking services; outpatient clinics; support groups; mental health
counseling; senior centers; recreational services; legal services;
volunteer opportunities; employment services.
Community-based services for the adult
who requires more care giving due to increasing dependence include:
homemaker services; visiting nurse; transportation; friendly visitor
support service; legal services; adult day care; telephone hotlines or
contact services; respite care; retirement communities with
services/life care; protective services; assisted living; group home, or
congregate living; acute care, chronic care, rehabilitation facility;
intermediate nursing care and skilled nursing care.
Coping With the Change of Relocating
Moving has many complex implications and
effects upon the older adult. Most older adults have lived in their home
for more than twenty years. Relocating presents challenges to establish
new connections to community, friends, and family. An awareness of the
community services available can help with this adjustment process.
Seniors adapt more easily to environments that fit their personal range
of mastery and control over their surroundings. The following questions
may be helpful for seniors in adjusting to relocating:
- Is there a sense of security and
- Is there a sense of control, choice,
privacy, and autonomy for the resident?
- Is there accessibility,
adaptability, and orientation to the new environment?
- Do the aesthetics contribute to a
pleasant, personalized atmosphere providing for a sense of home and
Moving into a new residence has a special
meaning for each individual. For older adults, the perception of "home"
usually includes good neighbors, friends, and memories. Security,
comfort, and integrity of the individual are important to maintain as
the older adult considers relocation.