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I am 80 & a widow for 8 mos—took care of husband since 2012 the same year I had back pain & had to use a cane—I also took care of my dog with kidney disease till he died—under all this stress had high BP, bowel removed due to infection, breast CA, many hospitalizations—now I feel like the house (one story) is closing in on me there is so much ‘stuff’ that I can’t organize due to severe back & leg pain when standing—my husband took care of majority of bills & now it’s all on me & sometimes I feel overwhelmed—my grandkids got me another small dog (8 yo) & he is a joy; he makes me get up & dressed to take him for a walk each day. I feel living in a smaller place (that would accept a dog) would be better for me & my kids. They have their own families & houses & bills & they come & fix things around the house, mow, shovel snow. I feel my back is getting worse by the day & maybe I would be less stressed & so would they if I went into elderly housing. What do you all think? Pros & cons? I am also dealing with grief of my husbands death & since Covid there hasn’t been any face to face group meetings only online. I don’t do well talking online or just reading about grief by myself—I need to see the people who have gone thru it in person —I found this site when I was caring for husband & it helped me a lot with all the answers given to my questions so I hope y’all can help me with this decision—thanks in advance!

It seems you have a lot of pain these past few years. Before moving, try a few ideas:

1 - Ask you children and grandchildren to come and help you declutter. I bet at least one of them is a compulsive organizer and another may have a flair for interior design. Go through 1 room at a time. Donate whatever you don't need: to your family, to friends, or to a charitable organization (get those donation receipts for taxes). The idea is to streamline down to whatever truly gives you pleasure, is useful, and makes life easier.

2 - Ask a tech savvy family member to help you with establishing online bill payments and automatic payments. You won't have to remember who to pay and when. If you are nervous about this, start with payments that are always the same amounts. You can see that the payments are made by checking your bank statements online - or ask that tech savvy family member to do so for you.

3 - Ask a grandchild or 2 or 3 to come clean your home and yard on a weekly basis for a little cash. Write a simple agreement that states when they will come, the work they will do, and the amount they will be paid. Bonuses: you get to see them weekly and your place looks amazing!

4 - Ask a family member to take you grocery shopping. I know that grocery deliveries are available but you need more "people interactions" in your week. Please make sure to wear a good face mask, wash your hands, and social distance. Bonuses: a little exercise, a little time socializing, and you get to pick the best produce.

5 - Ask a reliable child to go with you to see a lawyer that specializes in elder law. Make out your will, your financial power of attorney, your medical power of attorney, living will and any other legal documents that will help your family care for you.

6 - Get a doctor appointment, now. You are experiencing pain that is making it hard to live comfortably. Yes, you will need to wear a face mask and wait in a car until your doctor is ready. Please write a little diary until your appointment of the pain you feel daily: when, where is it, on scale of 1-10 how bad is it, what does it feel like, and if anything makes it better. He/she can prescribe medications, physical therapy (which can come to the house), and any aides like splints, walker... While you are at it, explain your difficulties with being isolated. You may have a touch of depression which is totally understandable and totally treatable.

Most of these ideas will take about 6 months to give a good trial. If they help, you may not need to move at all. If you still feel like you wish to move to assisted living, there are some facts you need to understand. People in all types of residential facilities are isolated from each other. Most are not permitting visitors of any kind = more social isolation. It will be more expensive than living in your current home. You will be giving up a lot of freedom to make decisions.

My grandmother successfully lived to 98 years old (1 month shy of 99). She lived in her own home until she was 92. She moved in with my mother and paid my mom to be her caregiver. They were a good fit for those 7 years. Gram had severe arthritis in her hands and knees. She also had a bad heart and developed some Alzheimer's disease the last few years - just a bit forgetful and repeating the same stories. She had a good quality of life. Praying you can have the same as well.
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Frances73 Aug 15, 2020
All excellent ideas. Start small, one drawer, one shelf, one closet at a time.
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Good morning my dear.

Firstly, my condolences for the loss of your dear husband as well as your pup. You are right, this is a hard time for grief. Folks are having to deal with it feeling isolated because of this pandemic.

When my father passed away, I remember some wise words that were written to my mother which were “don’t do anything major for a year”.

You are coming up on that landmark so it is good that you have started your thought processes. I think moving to a smaller home, in a senior community, might be a good idea for you if that’s what you feel like you need to do. I suggest you do the legwork, as much as you can with this pandemic, and start looking at places to see if they feel like they are calling your name.

Maybe you could start by going through one drawer at a time at your house and weed through the papers and all the stuff that we accumulate through life, that way when you pick the right place, it won’t be as overwhelming to you. Big plus here, it will give you some goals and some thing to pass your time.

I want to assure you that you will get through this and you will be able to enjoy life again. Continue on the path that you are thinking of right now, just don’t be in a hurry, you have plenty of time to do your research to pick the right place. And then that place will say WELCOME HOME.
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I think you’re so wise to be thinking along these lines. It’s very realistic to plan on downsizing and moving to a more manageable place that better fits your needs now. You’ll feel lighter and freer and be giving your family a great gift by them not having as much to worry over. My husband and I have already downsized once and will do it again I’m sure. Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling. You can make a new home and I wish you the best
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JoAnn29 Aug 13, 2020
"Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling" I like that
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Hello, Reading your contribution to this great website brought back many memories of the agonies I went through when my husband died 5 years ago at age 86. He had mild (worsening) dementia that made it difficult to communicate in any depth and some physical problems that made it impossible for him to do most of the things he enjoyed..golf, yard work, driving, poker games with his friends, attending his beloved Seahawks football games, even visiting and advising our 6 children & 12 grandkids. He had always been everyone's "rock" and a lot of fun to be with. I stayed alone in our big home for 3 years and enjoyed it (mostly), but then started to think about my long term future. There's not much housekeeping when a woman is alone and I loved caring for our beautiful yard. I knew I wouldn't be able to continue driving forever and decided to investigate independent living facilities while I could still be the one making my decisions. I looked for "graduated care" so I could be moved from IL to AL and even to memory care, within the facility, if that became necessary, without having to go searching again for the appropriate next level of care. At first, my children were appalled that I would be considering such a move. But they gradually came to realize it wasn't because I needed "care", it was so I'd have the freedom to just live my life without having to worry about maintaining the home/yard, etc. I found exactly what I was looking for after visiting several places. I've been here nearly 3 years and have never regretted it. Of course, such a transition is partly what you make of it. I'm a confirmed extrovert without being pushy and have made friends with many of the residents. I've gotten involved in many activities and take advantage of all the outings.
If you decide to start investigating...ask lots of questions...is there someone there at night? Ask to have a meal or 2. what's the amount of housekeeping they offer? how does it smell when you walk in and walk around inside? Odors turned me away from a couple of places I visited. Ask for a peek into the kitchen. Start making a list of the questions you have and take it with you when you visit.
I wish you the best in your search and your journey. I still have days when I'd give a lot to be back in my house, but, being a rational woman, I know I'm right where I belong.
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I moved into an independent living complex (62 and older). It was the worst mistake of my life. We read about bullying in middle and high schools, but I was not prepared at the viciousness of listening to 70-80-90 year old women tear into each other verbally. I put myself forward to volunteer for some of the activities and one woman who thought she was in charge of them all left a cut and paste threat in my mailbox that no one like me. Everyone wanted to know where I was going, where I had been, what I had bought if I returned from shopping. Fortunately, for me, I was able physically, and financially to move out to a 1 BR apt in a property managed new complex. I've made friends here, the staff are fantastic and all the maintenance needs are met by them.

If you choose to explore this, be very, very prepared for the 'cliques' of old.

One suggestion might be to find a small apartment in a managed property and avail yourself of community resources for activities and volunteer opportunities. Look for an area with an outstanding public/handicap public transportation system. Then you can come and go as you wish without dealing with the mean girls. Mean girls grow up to be very mean old women who sadly have nothing in their lives but to make everyone else miserable.

Life is too short, to have your golden years be tainted. Best of luck!!!
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cherokeegrrl54 Aug 15, 2020
Bravo for being honest about thr mean girls! I have seen that same thing where mom and i both live. I have to just shake my head and i dont allow myself to be drawn in by it. I just laugh and shake my head and keep walking!! 🤣
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If I were you and can afford it, I would find a nice Assisted Living. One that has their Memory care separate. Moms AL was small and mixed. I felt sorry for those people that had to deal with those residents pretty much into their Dementia. The only bills you will need to worry about is your rent, phone and cable. I have a Tracfone. All I have to worry about is adding minutes and I can do that from the app. You won't need to worry about meal prep. They take care of your prescriptions. They do the cleaning. Will help you with ADLs.

Start downsizing now. Ask family to help. Keep in mind that an AL you get one room, some have apts. That way you will only keep what you will need.

I suggest you talk to your PCP about your pain. There are pain management doctors that may help you in controlling it.
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I am 69 and I expect to be asking the same question in 10 or 15 years. There is a lot of good advice here already, but I would like to throw in just a bit more. You will need to go through your things and sort out what to keep and what to give/throw away. Get started on that now, one drawer or cupboard at a time. This is good whatever your decision might be. It will give you some time to get used to life alone as well. You will be making progress either way.

If you have a computer, I would think about scanning into the computer the papers that you want to keep but don't really want to store. I have also scanned in all the photos from the old photo albums. I find that watching a slide show on my computer is better for me than going through the old albums. I gave the albums to my children. A friend also took photos of her old home and the sets of china she determined would not fit into her small AL suite. Take photos of everything that you shared with your husband in happy times and arrange them into digital slide shows. If you are not familiar with this process, ask a grandchild to help you. Even though I am still enjoying taking care of my home and gardens, I still take a lot of pleasure in looking at the digital slide shows I have made of my previous homes. It is a fine way to keep what you no longer have and revisit those earlier projects and happy times.

For me, the decision to move will be based on my ability and willingness to maintain my home and gardens in the way that I want them. For a while I had a couple of women come in once a month to do the heavy housework. I had to let them go when the pandemic came, but I will hire them again when it is safe. I also hire a man to help in the gardens. Having a little help makes the work a bit lighter and makes my life in my home more pleasant. Think about what might make your home feel better again.

I suspect, though, that 8 months is long enough that you do know that it is time to move on. Take your time in selecting a place that will keep you interested and engaged. If possible, find a place with nice views from the windows so that when you are having a slow day you can sit at the window and drink a cup of tea and be happy with the view. As much as you can, find a little joy in wrapping up your life in your home as you also explore the comforts of your new home. Do include your children and grandchildren in this process so that your eventual move will be satisfying. I say "eventual" because you may have to wait for an available apartment and you want to take your time sorting through your things, choosing what to take, what to bestow on others and which things should be donated to charity or thrown out. Your children, grandchildren, even nieces and nephews may be thrilled to get some of your old treasures. They will also help you to be less alone as you contemplate this move.

Bless you, and good luck finding a place that will be a nice, new home for you that will give you peace and a new sense of companionship with your new neighbors.
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My brother just died after living in Assisted Living for just over 1 year. He was 85. Mostly it was a balance issue that took him in, a car accident that meant he could not longer shop for himself and would not drive again. I am 78. Knees, back, ankles slowly giving.
He lived at an assisted living that was VERY good. Very well staffed, good food, kind staff, movies, van to shopping centers, library, etc every week, activities. He had two rooms, So. Cal, ran him 4,000 for two room and beginning level of care (meaning basically self caring).
My answer to you is "Yes, you should BUT....." He was there, I am closer at 78, and you are a bit inbetween us.
If you can afford Assisted living you should consider this, but know that more and more people are in Assisted Living because they already suffer some mental impairment, often a good deal of physical. At my bro's table (for meal times) two women very "with it" and four others quite impaired. I was his POA and did his bills etc per his request.
Another "but " would be that you may not yet need that cost and that level of care; you may thrive in an Independent community.
If you are not there you are closing in and mostly physically, which is what I think "takes us there". Much better to begin explorations and to choose on your own.
For now be certain you have ALL wills, trusts, and POA in place. That is for doing NOW at once, if not already done.
Wishing you luck. We all get here. I hope financially you are left with choices.
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blackhorse1 Aug 16, 2020
Alvadear is always very insightful.

Unfortunately, my Mom passed away last September on the 14th which was kind of fast considering she would not allow anyone to help care for her, even to help us care for her, in her own home. She really was too much for my sister lifting her and I really could not do that so she was angry with me. My sister learned that when she could not even go to her appointments for melanoma in situ, probably brought on from stress I assume. It is so awesome that you are thinking forward and not set in cement that you want absolutely no changes to your current place in life. I offered to purchase a nice adjustable bed from Macy’s for Mom , but she did not want it as it could not accommodate her bedroom set’s furniture, CA king. She did not want to participate In physical therapy as she did not like to exercise. I tried to explain to her that if she ever needed a Hoyer lift , it could Not fit in Her bedroom. It made it incredibly difficult to try to help her as she wanted to be the boss and we tried our best to let her have her wish on that. I think it hindsight, I did not realize that she could not have all her wishes met as she was intermittently not 100% thinking clearly. That is what confused me so much as often she was ! I did not know enough about aging changes. But at least she did not have to go through the ordeals of COVID-19! But I do wish I could have conveyed to her how
much I loved her and appreciated all she had done for me all my life before she passed away, a day I was at work. She seemed to resent I did not drop everything in my life including my own family to help her. I have so much guilt about that, but I could never do what my sister did to be available to her 24/7 and not sleep at night with her wanting to get up to go to the restroom or commode multiple times. I wish I could have helped her and my own family responsibilities too at the same time, but that could not happen and I knew that. I need minimum of six hours of sleep per night and I need to help my special needs daughter who sometimes is more with it than my husband!

it has been almost one year now without Mom here, but I still am very sad and wishes I could have found better solutions. She passed days after her 89th Birthday and had often said she should not be around as her mother passed I her 50s. I never met her mom, my grandma nor her dad, my grandpa. I am way past 50, but I feel young and blessed to have my special needs daughter who almost has her associates degree at our loca junior college. It has helped me be forward thinking and up on many things I would not be otherwise.
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I think it sounds like an extremely good idea for you to move into a (carefully selected) retirement community. Check that there is a good continuum of care and support services available so that you will be able to remain there even if your abilities do gradually decrease.

But I think you're right, and I think that once you can conserve your energy for activities you enjoy - as opposed to being stressed by the burdens of home ownership and coping alone - you'll find that your physical health actually improves. What a sensible lady you are!
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Hi jakies :) i just turned 80 this year too.

ive had long term insurance for years and so have been checking out some places tho i dont need any yet. I do think the time has come for you to look around a little since youve got the time. So thats all i’ll talk to you about.

it’s really nice now that places will allow pets.

this sounds really weird but im actually looking forward to going to a facility and having someone clean for me and fix meals, have games and movies, take van rides, and still give me some private times.

i suggest visiting the facilities in your area and even a short distance away if nothing satisfactory is close. Have a meal. Talk to residents. Ask if you can go to activity or two.

personally i want to go directly to assisted living. I dont see any sense in independent living for myself since i have a house.

Something else too to ask is when the time comes if you can remain in your apartment/room with hospice visits or do you have to go to a nursing home. The place im interested says it will allow me to remain there.

now, sadly for me, is persuading my husband that moving someday is a good idea. He is adamant about remaining at home and it saddens me that i may need to leave him behind.

will a facility turn out to be as “wonderful” as they try to make it sound? I can only hope. I think it would be better than living in a house and waiting for meals in wheels even with a pet ... and husband in my case ... and just sitting around with virtually nothing to do and no way to get someplace. And I hope im healthy enough enough to enjoy it without having to wait too long and then not be eligible and have to go directly to skilled.
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