I Don't Need That (Yet)

If you are 50 or over, you need to face it. If you are under 50, you need to face it. Face what exactly?

When is the right time to think about where you will live during the various stages of retirement? When is the right time to investigate, understand, and discuss the role of a senior living community in the living equation?

The answer is either soon or now!

As we’ve written about often, retirement is a long time. Longevity changes everything. It is best that we figure it to last for 30 years and divide it into three different life stages. With that as a backdrop, a lot of issues become important. Issues we’ve never struggled with before. Issues like living longer, the impact of death and those left behind, and how will we maintain as much flexibility in our life as we can.

The issue of choice is key.

Some choices we can make and control as long as we plan for them in advance. Others, particularly those we don’t plan, are forced upon us. So, what is better? Making key life decisions when you have some control or having them forced on you?

Here are a couple of examples: My mother, whom I love dearly, was a very independent person. She cared for my dad so completely and lovingly during the last few years of his life. Almost immediately on dad’s passing, my brother became deathly ill. She nursed him too until he passed. Then, to her great credit, and only after a year of mourning, she began to aggressively live out the next stage of her life. This stage started at roughly age 78 and for nearly the next 10 years she drove, wrote, spoke and led many Bible studies. As she approached 90, living alone became increasingly problematic. I wanted her to stay in her home, as did she. However, realizing that she needed some more help and with our spare bedroom for that help to be available 24/7 was of no interest to her.

No matter my cajoling and concern, she just would not hear of it. So, the other option then became an assisted living facility. Fortunately, she lived in Arizona where there is an abundance of assisted or senior living options. I took her to see many of them, often ones where friends of hers were living. For the first time, she would not face the reality or the necessity.

Finally, when I visited and realized she was not taking her critical meds, we needed to act in love in order to protect her. With much consternation, I moved her into a delightful senior facility. It had a nice bedroom, sitting area, and small kitchen. Good food was available downstairs as well as attentive care. But, Mom was not happy. After only 6 months she died, and I’m convinced it was because she could not reconcile this move with her perception of reality.

We were forced to make a decision when we have to. How much better to have laid out the process earlier and been able to prayerfully come to a mutually agreed action plan.

In contrast, one of my friends and long-term clients just completed a 3-year journey leading him and his wife of 15 years to the sale of their home and a move into a senior facility. They are close to 80 and have been discussing, praying, and preparing for this move for a long time. They stayed in the house that he has lived in for 30+ years. Cleaning up and out was a 12-month process. Moving to a two bedroom, living room, and kitchen unit at an outstanding senior facility in Southern California was the planned move. There are significant financial considerations and those have been addressed and planned for starting almost 25 years ago.

They are both active, travel often, and write and research new projects. Simplifying their living situation is an important step in supporting the kingdom building activities of their next stage of life.

Bringing all of your relationships into this living equation is important. Sometimes there are three generations involved and most often, there are at least two - the parents and children. We’ve all read about the transitional role from being the child to parenting your parents. No matter the timing or the process, it is admittedly difficult.

The bottom line is that it is so much better to get ahead of the reality rather than wait for the circumstances, usually health issues, to control them.

Bruce Bruinsma