Dancing to a Different Drummer

HAVE YOU EVER HAD SOMEONE TELL you (assured it was for “your own good”) that you shouldn’t be living alone? That you shouldn’t be climbing ladders … that you be looking for something smaller–something that would be less taxing on you physically?

And, do you hear it frequently enough (stated in various subtle way, from various sources) that you start to believe it to be true? Family, friends, doctors—even advertising—want you to sit back and enjoy “the good life” in your “golden years” … stay safe so you can live to a ripe ol’ age. (Insert eye roll here, please …)

Well, after my two falls in January, I was beginning to think they might be right! I really felt like I’d trashed my knee beyond repair. My ankles (and body in general) were alternately screaming at me to “Take a load off! Please!” and “Move, girl … Move!” But, even following my body’s cues, I was still in pain and having sleepless nights. It’s not as bad as it was in the first weeks after my second fall (thank God!), but it’s still not pleasant. Thankfully, the pain is tolerable, but I’m still not sleeping well—me thinks my body has decided this is the new “normal”. NO! My appointment with my orthopedist is just around the corner (finally!), so soon I will know if he’s going to recommend a knee replacement. I’m going to assume—well, I’m hoping—he isn’t, because living alone complicates recovery and freedom. All those thoughts about letting others “take care of me” kept popping into my head. Maybe I do need to get out of this house and into something smaller. That wouldn’t solve the living alone issue, but things would be simpler—less to maintain, fewer reasons to climb a ladder, closer to family and OGS … right?

Still, the idea of a senior community kept creeping in to my thoughts frequent enough that I decided to check it out. Since I spend an inordinate amount of time on the Peninsula (20-45 min away), it seemed only logical to start looking over there. I knew the prices would be high … but, oh my (sticker shock!). There are three that popped onto my radar almost immediately … and one more was added for good measure. I’ve talked with representatives at all of them. About the only thing I could possibly afford are a couple one-bedroom apartments or studios—and even then, it’s a stretch. Talk about the ultimate in down-sizing. From almost three-quarter acre and 1500 sqft of house to just shy of 700sqft (4-500 sqft for the studio—yikes!) and not even a carport for my one vehicle (which means I need to downsize my driving “stable” too—I knew that was coming long ago … I just can’t decide which to keep—decisions, decisions!).

I’ve even gone as far as talking with my financial planner (to see if a seniors community is even a financial feasibility) and a realtor, who has looked at the house and sent me an appraisal. (Of course, he says now is the time to sell … of course he does.) The Seniors Community reps all recommended a local company to help in the actual painful downsizing process. I contacted them a couple days ago—I will need them whether I move or not.

But, now that I have the sticker-shock fees in my head, I’m wondering if I really need to go to those drastic measures to be “safe”. I’ve started to look at houses for rent (or buy) and apartments again. True, I won’t have that built-in care right there the moment I need it, but I don’t think I’m actually ready for that yet (other than short term care after a surgery). Renting is giving me more sticker shock, but I figure I can get more for my buck—not have to do such a drastic downsize (maybe a two-bedroom apt with a covered garage/carport)—and still have enough money left over to get some short-term care and Uber rides if that knee replacement is in my near future. And now (sniggle), after using Zillow and Trulia to investigate rentals (and homes for sale), I’m getting ridiculous “comparable home” notices—they seem to always include a minimum of two that are outrageously out of my reach financially … why do they even do that??

Niggling thoughts at the back of my mind leap out occasionally. Do I really even need to move out of my “rent-free” (paid it off long ago) home at all? All that money I won’t need to spend could go to engaging a gardener and a housekeeper and still allow me the luxury of having the financial means to continue traveling (would be iffy as a seniors community resident). I can use the downsizing company to help me purge my home of the stuff I’ve been clinging to (yes, that was definitely another sticker-shock fee!) … this place needs a major purge (one I cannot manage on my own)—then I can live here unencumbered by “things” and truly begin to enjoy life.

Yup, I’m not going to fall for the “we’re here to help you …” mantra. I like my self-reliant lifestyle. I’m almost positive I’ll be staying in my home, continuing the 20-ish minute “commute” to Open Ground Studios to play … well, most likely. My mind has just come up with one more scenario that I need to investigate … hmmm (insert giant grin here …)

Oh! I almost forgot … Happy First Week of Spring! It’s been a very “springy” week here (wet, and flowers are busting out everywhere!). So … until I make up my mind, I certainly hope you and your loved ones have a blessed Friday and week to come!

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