In the past two posts I’ve been writing about my client Evelyn, who recently experienced one of life's major transitions. In this final post, Evelyn has more advice for what can be a difficult period for some people.
When deciding what she wanted for her elderly years, Evelyn compared options and consulted her children. “There’s been a lot of growth and what has been so crazy about it is my kids have loved it.” Evelyn notes that at first her son, in particular, was concerned about her decisions. “'Oh dear, she’s moving to a retirement center, I may have to take care of her.' That’s what scared my son.”
After discussing a possible move out of state to be near her kids and the eventual retirement community she chose close to where she currently lived, her children saw she was making the right choice. While she wanted to consult with them, she made it clear she was going to be independent.
Her advice for other retiree’s children is not to take decisions away from their parents. She notes that fortunately, her children have strong boundaries.
“I must have done something right. They didn’t come and get me [when she was sick]. They didn’t make me move to Memphis. They never thought they had to take care of me. They knew I could do it. And it’s really made them happy that I’ve done this on my own. I’m just really grateful my kids are independent and they know that I [am] going to be independent.”
To those who may be looking at a similar transition within a few years, Evelyn advises, “take your time. Get to know yourself really well. Know what you want.”
Getting to know yourself to Evelyn means, “getting down to my true self. Letting go of what a lot of what the world says you need to be. And I think that comes a lot with aging. A lot of that is about not having to live up to expectations. “
Another thing Evelyn chose to do was “not compare myself to my friends. No matter how much money you have, there will always be people who have more money than you do. That doesn’t matter. You have to figure out what is right for you and just do it.”
This was especially important as she set a budget. “I’ve always had a budget, but when you aren’t making house payments anymore, there’s so much that [is] there.” Although Evelyn was aware you shouldn’t spend more than you take in, she had to grasp the fact that “when you retire you are already spending more than you take in.”
Evelyn credits You Need a Budget with helping her get her expenditures under control. “It helped me get my entertainment budget in line…to decide how much I needed, what entertainment I wanted to do and what was right for me. Just because my friends did it, didn’t mean that I had to do it.”
Evelyn is looking forward to the continuation of things she’s always done, like finding a way to teach, and exploring writing and art. She is also excited about meeting people in her new community. “The possibilities are endless.”
While a retirement community might not be right for everyone, there are lessons to be learned from Evelyn’s experience. Soul-searching, research, consulting with family and facing the future bravely can make a big difference in easing what can be a time of turmoil. It’s up to us to look at any transition as a new adventure with new opportunities. We can either languish and fade away or we can choose to bloom.