I was talking with a good friend and business partner recently and as we were finishing our conversation he said, “Oh, by the way, I heard something from somebody the other day that made a lot of sense and I wanted to share it with you.”  

He went on to explain that another friend of his, John, had just retired after a long career as a school principal. Following retirement John and his wife decided to sell their house and move a couple of hours south to be closer to their grown children and grandchildren.

Trent told me how John described his and his wife’s experience of moving. John talked about the housing search, de-cluttering, and leaving the neighbors. But then he said, “As difficult as the process was at times I realized something. I realized that this move is going to be good for us.” He said the move taught him and his wife to keep an open mind to new adventures in life and how to adapt to change. It also caused them to purge a lot of “stuff” they really don’t need.

Then he said something really insightful. “Through this experience I have come to believe that everyone should move every ten years,” explained John.   

You see, John’s mother currently lives in an assisted living facility. He knows how challenging it can be, emotionally and otherwise, for seniors to move during the later stages of life, particularly after living in the same home for so many years.

“If we all moved every ten years,” said John, “it would become a part of what we do.  We would become more accustomed to change; to accepting new environments. And we wouldn’t have so much clutter to deal with one day. For those who reach the point where living at the home is no longer feasible the idea of moving won’t be a big, dramatic thing. It’s just another move.”

I believe John is right. In fact, I experienced this with my own grandmother, albeit somewhat inadvertently. Following my grandfather’s passing in the mid-nineties she moved out of the home they lived in for decades and into a condo that was closer to her sister. Then, after living for there for about ten years she decided to move again, this time several hours east, to live in an apartment near her daughter (my mother). After experiencing a couple of bad falls she and my mother both felt that she would be better served in an assisted living facility. Other than a little bit of back and forth there was virtually no resistance from my grandmother. As I look back I really believe this is because she had already moved twice within the previous fifteen years. She lived in the facility for just over two years before falling ill and eventually passing away at the age of ninety-two. 

For many of us it is natural to resist change and to hold on to the past. In the later stages of life these urges are sometimes even stronger, particularly when faced with moving to an assisted living community. Even those who do not require assisted living are often reluctant to move to a retirement community for the same reasons, even though it may prove to be a more beneficial option for them long-term. Yet, if we can train ourselves in the earlier years to adapt to moving, and in the process reduce the amount of clutter that tends to accumulate over time, then we may all be slightly less resistant to eventually making a move that could be in the best interest of ourselves and our families. 

Brad is co-founder of My LifeSite (formerly LifeSite Logics), a North Carolina company that develops web-based tools and resources designed to help families make better-informed decisions when considering a continuing care retirement community. Brad previously spent thirteen years as a financial advisor before starting My LifeSite and still maintains the Certified Financial Planner™ certification. His extensive knowledge of the retirement living industry, combined with his financial planning background, allows him to provide valuable insights about lifestyle, healthcare, and financial planning considerations related to this significant life decision. He’s frequently quoted in national media such as Kiplinger’s Magazine, Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, USA Today and the New York Times. Brad is the author of a book released in 2014 titled, “What’s the Deal with Retirement Communities?” and speaks regularly for retirement living providers, industry trade organizations, life-long learning classes, and other groups across the country.