The older we get the less likely we want to go through the hassle of selling our home and moving. It’s a lot of work and very disruptive and honestly, the majority of people over the age of 65 don’t want to do it. Senior citizens are reluctant to leave their friends, to get rid of possessions and say goodbye to a home they have lived and loved in for decades.
So why do seniors decide to leave it all behind and change their surroundings?
The City of Calgary conducted a survey and questioned a random sample of senior citizens to get the reasons behind their move. The goal was to help the city’s social services departments do some planning around senior housing and economic assistance programs. The results were very interesting.
Of the 500 households that were contacted by phone, 8% of the respondents reported that they had moved in the 24 month time frame before the survey. Not a lot of people, but within that 8%, most had moved from a single-family residence in an established community and were renting something smaller such as an apartment or a semi-detached or attached dwelling. Some left the inner-city in favour of newer neighbourhoods further out.
Another 9% of respondents reported that it was their plant to move house within the year. Within this 9%, most had not reached their 74th birthday, weren’t all that thrilled with the prospect of moving and most were living in established or older communities in Calgary.
Common Reasons Seniors Sell Their Calgary Home
Of those who had already relocated, the three most popular reasons for moving were:
1.) New Family Situation: With children grown and moved away or perhaps even a spouse gone due to divorce or death, respondents said there are fewer or no people left living with them in the house.
2.) Desire for a Smaller Home: This small number of respondents who had reported moving in the last 24 months say a smaller home was the driving force to move. Less room to heat, clean and worry about.
3.) Declining Health: Whether it was the respondent or a family member also living in the home, declining health was a reason for the move. Poor health, mobility issues and the need for extra care are good reasons to move where help is nearby.
Reduced Living Expenses
Of the small number of senior survey participants who said they will likely move within the year, most said their reasons were either economic or based on practical needs, and wished to reduce their living expenses. The cost of running their home was getting to be too much, from increased property taxes to high utility costs. Many seniors living in established neighbourhoods that suddenly become popular for redevelopment find themselves unable to keep up with escalating property taxes.
Elbow Park is a good example, where a woman who purchased a home in the early 1950s as a young bride with her husband finds herself in an aging home in a transformed neighbourhood with multi-million dollar homes. Skyrocketing property values combined with an inner-city location outdate many long-time residents.
Desire For Maintenance-Free Living
The desire for a maintenance-free lifestyle is another common reason. Seniors living in homes with lawns that need cutting, trees that require pruning, driveways that must be shoveled often throw in the towel when the work becomes too great. Without support from family and neighbours or the ability pay for home maintenance the decision to move to a maintenance-free home is very appealing. Of course, long before the ability is an issue, many older adults embrace maintenance-free living as a lifestyle choice, wanting any spare time they have to be spent on fun.
How Seniors are Safer in an age-in-place Home
Aging in place can be a great alternative for seniors as they get older. For those who struggle with changes, developing ways to stay safe in their current home is often a good option. Whether a senior is ready to convert their current living space to manage growing needs, or wants to move to a new residence to age-in-place, it's important to have discussions about physical and emotional needs early on.
One way to improve the safety of any senior wanting to age-in-place is to use technology that is available. Emergency buttons that can be pressed in the event of a fall, monitoring systems and communication tools can all impact how safe a senior is at home. When a family member is concerned about a senior who wants to remain home, technology can make it easier.
To keep seniors safe at home, it's important to have the right support in place. Home health workers can make it possible for people who struggle with driving, or remaining completely independent. For people who need a little help cooking or getting dressed for the day, a home health aide can have a positive impact on the overall living situation.
In any age-in-place home, the overall safety will need to be addressed. Proper grab bars, one floor living and trip hazards will all be addressed. In order to remain home as long as possible, it may also be necessary to have support that comes and helps out once in awhile.
In assessing the results of the survey, the City of Calgary reaffirmed its long-term goals of helping senior citizens stay in their home by looking for funding opportunities.