When it comes to making a move into Senior Housing or Retirement Living, procrastination can be a serious issue.
Procrastination can be a problem as you grow older. In an article from Psychology Today, procrastination is described like this, “Everyone puts things off sometimes, but procrastinators chronically avoid difficult tasks and may deliberately look for distractions. Procrastination tends to reflect a person’s struggles with self-control. For habitual procrastinators, who represent approximately 20 percent of the population, “I don’t feel like it” comes to take precedence over their goals or responsibilities and can set them on a downward spiral of negative emotions that further deter future effort. Procrastination also involves a degree of self-deception: At some level, procrastinators are aware of their actions and the consequences, but changing their habits requires even greater effort than completing the task in front of them.”
There are many reasons that this issue can become more prevalent among Seniors.
Making a move or downsizing is a huge task for sure. And the older we get, the more difficult the project becomes. As we age, we may become more set in our ways. Certain patterns become more comfortable. Where you live, how you manage your day, what you eat, and where you go may narrow in scope. Repetition feels comfortable and manageable. A change in pattern or schedule may seem like a bigger task than it actually is. So procrastination is the road most traveled!
The majority of Seniors who move into a retirement community will say, “I wish I had made the move sooner.”
Betty and Al had been talking about making a move into Independent Living for several years. They were in their early 80s and many of their peers had already downsized. But it never seemed like the right time. Seasons would come and go, and it was always the wrong time – too hot, too cold, holiday plans, summer trips, etc. But Al had a bad fall and suddenly, they could not manage their home and the move was imperative. They moved into an Independent Living apartment at McCrite Plaza to have access to maintenance-free living, chef-prepared meals, therapies, and housekeeping. Their family took over the packing and moving process and sold their old home. Even though there were many adjustments, after a month, they shared with the staff, “We should have done this five years sooner!”
What are some of the reasons older people wait so long?
Aging in Place: A current trend in the United States is the popular idea that aging in place is a superior way to age. The operative word here is ‘place.’ Where is the right place? Staying in a four-bedroom home with a basement and attic full of stuff is not an easy place to stay. The burden of home ownership is tremendous. Downsizing can be a path to more freedom and flexibility. Holding off on a decision to move may be due to cultural pressure. A person might feel like their move is somehow a failure to thrive. That is not true because living in the right space is the smart thing to do so that you can thrive.
You don’t have a family to help you: It is true that many Elders do not have family close by to help them. When that is the case, it takes more planning, but that can be done. There are companies in the community whose full-time work is to solve this problem for Seniors. These companies will assist in your entire transition – planning, packing, selling, and distributing items, designing the new space, moving, and settling in! And even when there are families close by, they may need these same services to help. Delaying the decision to move does not make this issue go away; it only makes it more difficult to take on. Procrastination is not your friend. Don’t procrastinate, someday is not a day of the week!
I’m not old enough to live in a retirement community: There are very few people who feel like they are old. Someone once said that most people say they feel 15 years younger than their age. But age is just a number, so your energy and enthusiasm have much more to do with your quality of life. Some people are acting old at 60, while others are young at heart when they are 95. So, chronological age has very little to do with it. Retirement communities help people remain ageless. Living in a community, whether it is a 55+ community, Independent Living or Assisted Living, gives you the opportunity to stay active and engaged, which is a key to longevity. There is no reason to wait.
I’ve got too many health issues right now: This is a very poor reason to procrastinate. Health issues become the signals it is time to make a change. Where you live makes a big difference in the process of healing and rehabilitation. Living in a community where medical services are at your fingertip is important. Not only do you have staff that helps monitor your situation you have rehab and therapies at hand. You can choose to live in a healing environment.
Margaret had been living with a diagnosis of macular degeneration for several years. Her sight was slowly diminishing. She was very comfortable in her home because she knew it by feel. She could negotiate the rooms because of familiarity. As she pondered her future when she might be completely blind, she knew downsizing was important. In the future, she would be unable to handle stairs and tasks like cooking and laundry. She decided to make the move while she still had time to orient herself in her new smaller, and safer space. She moved into her Independent Living apartment at McCrite Plaza and made it home. Even though she could have waited, she made the wise decision to make a preemptive change to improve her lifestyle down the road.”
I don’t want to give up my independence: There is an unwarranted idea that moving to a Senior Community requires you to give up your freedom. So, the thought becomes, if I don’t move for as long as possible, I’ll maintain my independence. This is seriously misguided information. Downsizing and getting rid of stuff is the most liberating thing you can do. No one is requiring you to change your life preferences. In Senior Living, you have the support to continue making your own decisions.
I don’t like to ask for help: Another barrier to change might be because it requires help, and many Elders are reluctant to ask for help or deny that they need it. Even a small task like purchasing a new appliance or having some repairs made can be an overwhelming task when you get older. So rather than moving forward, the urge to procrastinate becomes stronger and stronger. You might call this stubbornness. Ask any adult child if their parents are stubborn. You’ll get an earful. Often kids are trying to help their parents make a change, and it falls on deaf ears or stubborn ears. It is a natural progression of life that parents invest themselves in their children’s lives for 50 years or more, and then it begins to reverse that the kids are helping their parents. There is no shame or humiliation in the process.
An older friend caught me at a social gathering and immediately wanted to express his dismay over his kid’s recent actions. I asked what was going on, and he very boldly showed me a text where his oldest son (of five kids) said they were all coming to town in a month to talk about planning for their downsizing. My friend was angry and insulted that the kids thought they needed to move and that they thought they needed help doing it! I literally had to talk him off the ledge. Perhaps the kids did not handle it well in announcing their plans to come without previous conversations, but their intent was honorable. From the son’s point of view, they we honoring their parents and offering their help. It took some time and reasoning, but my friend finally opened his mind to the idea of accepting his children’s offer for help. And rather than becoming angry, he could ask his son more questions and ask for more understanding of their intent. And he should tell his son about his initial feelings when he was blindsided by text to clear the air.”
Timing is important.
Getting educated about Senior Living and all that it entails is important. There is no reason to wait to begin your education. Go for tours and lunches at several communities. Learn all you can and become comfortable with new ideas for yourself. No one should make a decision as important as this in an emergency. The time to learn is now, even if your move is down the road. As Napoleon Hill said, “Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.”
Don’t practice the bad habit of procrastination! Schedule your tour at McCrite Plaza today and get started with your education!
Give us a call in Briarcliff-Kansas City at (816) 888-7930 or (785) 267-2960 in Topeka for lunch and a tour.