Community living gets a bad rap, and it’s rare to encounter an older adult who’s excited about making the move. Often, the decision to downsize and leave the family home is a big barrier.

Anyone who lives in a house for several years naturally forms an emotional attachment to it. Our homes are where we share meaningful experiences with our families and store our most valuable treasures. Adult children often feel trapped in a tug of war, reluctant to lose their childhood homes but eager to help their parents transition to an easier, more manageable life.

As we age, maintaining the homes we love presents challenges. And when the obstacles start outweighing the benefits, it might be time to start searching for a better alternative.

The decision to consider a move can also come with emotional feelings about finances. Decades of saving for retirement condition us to keep our eyes on the future, and when the future arrives, we often don’t recognize that this is the moment we were saving for. The shift from saving to spending isn’t always easy.

If you’re thinking about making a move, here are some questions to ask yourself at the start of the process:

1. Can I continue to stay safe in my current home?

Safety is a major concern for seniors — especially those living alone. As aging takes its toll, stairs become more difficult to navigate, and narrow hallways might not accommodate a walker or wheelchair. While retrofitting is an option, the cost is prohibitive for most and doesn’t solve the security issues of living alone.

2. Can I afford senior living?

Sticker shock can be a major deterrent for people. But many seniors don’t realize that the seemingly high cost of community living is often lower than the real cost of living alone. Seniors and their children should do a little math, comparing real monthly expenses with senior living expenses, to ensure that they’re really choosing the best option.

3. How much money and time am I willing to spend maintaining my home?

Home maintenance adds up quickly, especially as age prevents seniors from performing once-routine tasks such as lawn care and minor repairs. Adult children are are often on call to help, but many seniors are reluctant to ask too frequently, and many sons and daughters lack the know-how to take care of major repairs.

4. Can I easily get to appointments, stores, and other common locations from my home?

If driving is off the table, public transit options, walkable sidewalks, and nearby necessities become critical to quality of life. Some neighborhoods and cities are better equipped for seniors than others, so adult children and their parents should review their towns’ senior living ratings to make an educated decision.

5. Am I often isolated? Do I find socializing difficult?

Studies consistently indicate that social interaction is crucial for older adults’ cognitive, physical, and emotional well-being. Likewise, compared to social isolation, community living has been shown to lower mortality rates in seniors. Adult children should take notice of their parents’ socialization habits and see whether isolation is affecting their health and happiness. Seniors should do similar self-evaluations.

Deciding whether to move is difficult, but an honest assessment of the quality of life you have — or will have — if you stay in your home is a good place to start the decision-making process. Once you have a realistic understanding of the challenges of remaining in place, you can take the next step and begin researching your options for the future.

Author's Bio: 

John H. Cochrane III is the president and CEO of, a nonprofit organization committed to revolutionizing and redefining senior living by offering ways to help older adults continue to learn and grow. Connect with on Facebook.