How to decide when senior housing is better than home


By Marianne Delorey

As a provider of housing, I know that my biggest competition is not the fancy new apartments down the street. It is a place we can’t compete with — a place of great history and meaning to every elder. It is their family home.

We can compete feature by feature — you can’t beat our accessibility or our convenience. But let’s face a fact  — who would want to leave the place where they raised their children, in a community that offers familiarity if not support, and that holds a treasure trove of sentimental possessions?

Downsizing is a real word with a meaning that everyone understands, so it must have a place. The problem is, how to know when it is time to move into a smaller, more manageable setting?

Here is my decidedly non-scientific, tongue-in-cheek checklist for you to complete. If you check more than one item, I congratulate you on managing well in the community. Otherwise, start filling out applications.

•I love snow. I especially love shoveling my driveway after a good 12-18 inch storm.

•I love the sound of crunching leaves when I rake — it makes me nostalgic for the Great Pumpkin.

•I get so excited when my toilet gets clogged in the middle of the night. I’ve always been one for puzzles.

•My front stairs are easy to manage, even with three bags of groceries in my arms.

•My neighbors are so sweet — they check on me when I am in the hospital.

•My doctor says that climbing the stairs in my house is what has kept me young.

•I am a champion duster. I couldn’t see giving up my extra rooms as it would give me too much extra time.

•I am super steady on my feet and the idea of falling and not having someone nearby strikes me as a sissy move.

•I feel loved when my family is constantly worried about me and stopping by to check on me.

•I am planning on leaving my son a huge attic full of junk when I die to get him back for those sleepless nights when he was a teenager.

•Paying the heating bill is my way of staying on top of current events in energy management.

In all seriousness — I read a great quote about the stock market — the only way to know when the stock market has hit bottom is when it has started to go back up. Similarly, you won’t know it was the best time to move until something happens to prove you should have moved a while ago. Don’t let a fall or some other event decide your fate for you. Think ahead of time and prevent that event from happening.

Don’t believe it is time to move? Ask three people in your life. Do they ever call just to check in? Would they be less worried about you if you were in a different setting? Do they panic when the power goes out wondering if you will be ok? Listen to those people that worry about your best interests. Perhaps they know something you don’t.

Don’t forget that some of the best places have longer waiting lists. Fill out several applications now because you never know what you’ll need in a year or two.

Marianne Delorey, Ph.D. is the executive director of Colony Retirement Homes. She can be reached at 508-755-0444 or and Archives of articles from previous issues can be read at