February is known as the darkest month, though technically, it isn’t. The holidays are over and winter is upon us, with Spring teasing into view but with its warmth still far ahead. 

Most of us set some goals for the new year. For older homeowners, these goals may include exploring a new place to live.

This topic is emotional. It can be scary, overwhelming and sad. It can also be an exciting adventure and a relief. Whatever your feelings, it’s complex. It is useful to separate out the elements.

First, your feelings are as important as anything. If you’re excited: YAY, even if that excitement is tinged with trepidation. If your feelings lie more on the YIKES side, then some of the ideas included here may help. 

Know you are in good company. Talk with others who have made this kind of move. Even with no interest in moving there, I recommend touring a couple of independent living communities and requesting overnight stays. Bring a friend along. These stays are free. Talk with the residents about their experiences. You’ll learn a lot and feel more secure. 

If you like what you find (but not enough to move there) contact a Senior Referral Agent about other communities. These are invaluable professionals who help older adults choose housing communities which are the best fit in terms of finances, culture and amenities for current and future health concerns. 

You do not pay them – they are reimbursed by the housing community you select and you can look them up at OSRAA.org.  

If you’re considering a condo, smaller house or moving to a family member’s property, here is advice on logistics.

Know that it’s never too early to speak with a realtor. I recommend two things: referrals from your peers and/or using a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES). A good SRES should bring you a team of assistants for all logistics. 

Senior Move Managers help with all kinds of sorting and dispersing of belongings. They can recommend a reputable estate sale company or junk hauler. They can unpack and set you up in your new home. Senior-focused moving companies sometimes offer some of this extra help as well. 

Most realtors have good trades people to recommend for anything from house cleaning to replacing a roof. They can help manage these projects. 

The important thing is to meet with a realtor early so you know what to do and not do. Wherever you choose to go, this can be the beginning of a road map to get you there.

Besides helping sell your home and move, your realtor can show you condos and houses suitable for your needs now. 

If home-sharing with loved ones is in the mix, you may all wish to meet with a counselor about what to expect and how to manage this option. It can be a great win-win arrangement. 

For information on “age-friendly” home features, a HomeFit Guide from Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) is available on AARP’s website at aarp.org. Consider stepless entry to the house itself; bedrooms, bath and laundry facilities on the main floor, and lots of great interior and task lighting. CAPS can also assess your current house, should you wish to know what changes would be needed to stay there securely. 

Rachel Hemmingson facilitates age-related housing choices and changes for older adults. 971-207-2806 | rachelhemmingson@gmail.com