08 Oct Is there such a thing as a forever home?
Bonnie Sandler S.W., The Senior Times – October 2010
Having grown up in a home that afforded little privacy from my bedroom to the main living space, I dreamed of a home where the bedrooms were far from visitors’ eyes.
My first house was a cottage where a stairway led to bedrooms and bathrooms that were not visible from the main floor. For me, this was heaven.
I couldn’t understand why my friend chose to buy a bungalow that offered minimal separation from the sleeping areas and the open living areas. As my career led me to working with the elderly, I soon realized she’d made a wise choice, which would allow her to stay in her home longer should any health issues make climbing stairs difficult. I decided to downsize and bought a condo.
Aging in our own homes might be the preferred choice, but maybe not the ideal choice. Older people can be isolated as their social network shrinks and their abilities diminish. Someone who has few friends or family, is no longer able to drive, and finds familiar activities becoming challenging may end suffer from isolation.
Staying in their home of 50 years may be a choice of habit, fear of change and sometimes pure stubbornness.
A well-thought-out move to a senior residence can increase quality of life. Even a move to an apartment or condo means there are fewer physical challenges such as staircases.
It’s easier to meet people, network, carpool and share coffee with neighbours in this setting rather than a single-dwelling house.
When we are buying our first home, we think of raising children and seek homes that would best suit a growing family. We do not give thought to the possibility of one day living there alone, faced with empty rooms and many stairs. If we did, we would probably buy one-level homes or condos with superintendents to assist with our parcels and provide us with security. We would be free from having to handle home repairs.
Will the boomer generation downsize from their family homes easily after witnessing the struggles of parents too attached to their first homes? Or will this generation move to senior residences and focus on quality of life, fewer responsibilities and more social activities? As a boomer, I made my move to a condo a couple of years ago and couldn’t be happier. Will this be my forever home? Hard to say. Other than my childhood home, I haven’t lived in the same place for more than 10 years.
So check back with me in 10 years.