Another year, another year older. The new year brings a reminder to aging or retired seniors and their families that it might be time to start thinking about downsizing or transition.
Founder and president of Lianas Services Senior Transition Support Matt Del Vecchio and residential real estate broker Stefanie Cadou joined Global’s Laura Casella to talk about the preparation that goes into downsizing or moving into a retirement residence.
Eventually everyone goes through this transition period in their lives. However, there are people who prepare and there are people who go into panic mode when this moment finally arrives.
“There are always those two extremes,” said Del Vecchio. “We always try to promote [people to be] proactive.
“Look if you want to downsize.”
He said “no one wants to move necessarily” but if you can look to the future and do some home tours, you will be more prepared.
But there can also be unforeseen challenges. Del Vecchio said the period over the holidays was very busy for Lianas Services. Adult children were calling from the hospital saying “the doctors said mom can’t go home, we need to find a residence in the next week.”
This is what the team at Lianas Services does. “We can absolutely help but those are a little more emotional. It’s overwhelming,” he said.
Del Vecchio said there is absolutely a stigma around retirement homes. In fact, the senior living industry is flourishing.
“They have everything you need. If you need that nurse or the doctor, you need meals or you still want to live that independent life,” said Del Vecchio.
“Its the best of both worlds.”
Once seniors have decided to make that transition, Cadou is responsible for helping. She said very often seniors stay in their homes longer than they should because they don’t know what to do with their belongings.
“I always say start early, plan ahead,” she said. “Then work it slowly, one room at a time to avoid chaos.”
She suggests making three piles, one yes, one maybe and one no.
“Nothing gets out of the house right away because its very easy to put something back in the yes pile.”
When going through souvenirs and objects elders have had for several years — sometimes their whole lives — there is a lot of emotion.
“Give some things to family, and friends,” she recommended. “Do donations so it gives a second life to your favourite objects.”
She also said you can take souvenirs from various trips around the world and go digital by taking pictures and making a coffee table book. This way the memories stay.
“It’s all about the memories,” said Cadou.
This time is not only difficult on the seniors who are planning on transitioning but also for their adult children.
“[Adult children] have the burden of the stress,” Del Vecchio said.
They may start to worry about their parents’ mobility or cognitive issues, so he suggested planting seeds. Say “Your friend did it. Your friend’s having a good time. Your neighbours have done it.”
Lianas Services does free, personalized evaluations with clients, by taking them on tours and talking about the benefits in transitioning.
“There’s over 1000 residences in Montreal alone, so we want to narrow that down from care levels, your budget, your geography,” Del Vecchio said.
This way you can go back and talk about it as a family.
“Maybe its next spring or in the fall but, you’ve planted seeds that way.”
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