Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Specialists in late-life downsizing are on the rise - msnbc.com
She also remembers the frustration of going through their things once they finally agreed to relocate to a senior care facility nearby in San Mateo, Calif.
"I must have gone up to the house every Saturday for a year helping them sort through their stuff," Gilbert said. "I couldn't get my mother to make decisions or really do much each visit."
Once settled in the smaller space, surrounded by peers, her father's burden lifted. He got his wish to remain with his wife and began enjoying life again at 86.
Gilbert is now 72 herself and her folks are long dead, but their rocky transition in 1992 motivated her and her husband, David, to consider retirement housing at a much earlier stage. She was only 64 and he 67 when they moved into a full-amenity complex in Palo Alto, Calif., about 20 miles from the rural, ranch-style home where they had spent 35 years and raised their daughter.
There's a chef, a pool, a fitness center, a TV lounge with surround sound and a music room with a grand piano. There's a housekeeping service, a balcony for a small garden and entertainment at least once a month.
"I've never looked back," Gilbert said. "At that time we were the kids here. We certainly weren't candidates for God's waiting room."
As Americans live longer, many people find themselves navigating a confusing web of interconnected services for themselves or their parents when it comes time to shed possessions and relocate.
Some, like the Gilberts, use hard-won lessons from their parents' experience to take control of their own late-life downsize while they still have time to enjoy it.
Others have created a new industry, becoming "senior specialists" to help make those transitions less troublesome.