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Late Term Retirement: A Family Discussion

Category: Family and Retirement

September 28, 2022– As a follow up to our recent article, “There Might Be More Than One Kind of Home for You in Retirement“, this one concentrates on the latter stage of retirement. What you will do when you are a little less active, and your abilities are not quite what they were in the beginning and middle phases of retirement? The idea for this started when the eldest sister in our family, approaching her 79th birthday, asked our relatives what they were planning for their late retirement years. We agree this is an important conversation to have, particularly with one’s children and other family members. We hope that you will add your thoughts in the Comments section below, so we capture a wide range of opinions and plans.

The conversation started with this question:

We have no plans to sell our houses or to move, but it is certainly time for us to think about the future. With our children spread out, we could go many places. Our policy up to now has been, when we need help we will pick up and move close to one of our children. But I wonder if that might be too late. It’s hard for an older couple to make a big move, particularly if one is needy. Since both of our parents lived to a ripe old age (92 and 102) with most mental faculties intact, our genetics make it seem like we should be planning for the long term.

Mom at 100

I am curious if anyone else is thinking ahead on this matter.  We are the oldest but maybe because of so many options, we are clueless. Thanks for sharing your ideas

A sibling weighed in:

This decision is a ways away for us but we’ve often thought it would be nice to be near one of the kids. Or, if that didn’t make sense, to be near another family member.

Then a cousin added to these thoughts:

I guess we will remain here in the LA area, although I am thinking at some point we might move to a condo. I don’t know about your houses and pools, but mine ALWAYS need something done to it. It would be nice to have someone else worry about it and find someone to fix whatever needs fixing. 

These conversations remind me of the many we all had with mom and dad about their moves to an active community in Florida in their 50’s, then a Continuing Care Retirement Community in their 80’s (CCRC – also referred to as Life Care Communities), then to Maine. I think these moves worked for them and for us. I hope we will all be so lucky. 

 Another sibling:

I guess we will be in Ohio as long as our daughter and family are here.  We do wonder what we will do when the grandchildren grow up.  We still have our cabin in the woods, but the day will come when we will dispose of it; that will be before we are in our 80’s for sure.  

Your editor chimed in:

I have written about this a lot on Topretirements, but when it comes to what dear wife and I will do it is not that easy – the cobbler’s children have no shoes.

We don’t particularly fancy moving to where our children live, DC or California. CT is where most of our friends are, but it’s cold in the winter. Where we live in the Keys, hurricanes make the place dangerous, and the area is not great for aging people with medical issues. My bet is that at some point, if we live long enough, we will buy into a Continuing Care Retirement Community in CT in our 80’s, and continue to go back and forth to Florida as long as we can. Alternatively, my wife talks about moving in with her sister. Or, buying a downtown lot and building a low maintenance, one story home with guest cottage. Then walk to downtown and church.

The house where we have lived since we were in our 50’s is costly, but we love living there. At some point it will be too much trouble.

Our parents moved to this CCRC in their 90s.

In my experience, most people wait too long to decide what they are going to do. Then they have to move in a hurry. When it comes to CCRCs, waiting too long means risking trouble getting in, or having to pay extra. If the CCRC thinks you have dementia or need long term nursing care right away, they will charge a lot more, or deny. But so far they need the residents, so there is flexibility. Our dad was marginal when he applied to one, but they took him anyway. We know other people who waited too long and were lucky to get in. When millions of baby boomers hit 90, who knows what will happen, will there be enough places and staff to take care of us? Maybe we should put down our deposit sooner, rather than later, I don’t want to be one of those people who waited too long.

Another sibling:

I would research the total care facilities in your prospective move spots and then go visit them all. It might make a difference in where you want to move to. I think they have some kind of rating system. There is one in Steamboat Springs (CO) that is rated very high.

A last sibling weighs in:

I am not sure what we are going to do. Our daughter lives so far away in a cold environment that we will certainly not move there, if that is where she still lives. But then again, when our mother was 98 she moved from sunny Florida to chilly Maine to be near one of our sisters!

Bottom line – no concrete plans

So here we are, a large family and not one of us has more than some vague plans! Personally, I don’t think our situation is that unique, most people are playing the long retirement game plan by ear. It would be great if we knew exactly what we plan to do when it is not such a good idea (or impossible) to live by ourselves. Thinking about and discussing it in advance is at least a good idea, and might remove some of the uncertainty, making for better decisions.

So what are you plans?

It is never to early to think about long term plans, even if you are still in your 50s. Of course your interests can change, children can move, and you might find you don’t like where you first retired. But the more you plan the fewer surprises you might have, including finding out that you and your partner have very different ideas. Finding an initial area that will allow you to enjoy all phases of retirement could make things a lot easier too. Please share your musings in the Comments section below.

For further reading:

Posted by Admin on September 28th, 2022


  1. We did our first phase retirement move last year by downsizing to a one level new build in a nearby and less expensive county. We are still near enough to three of our children and all doctors, dentists, church, etc. However, as this is a new development in a semi-rural area and there are no stores nearby. We need to drive everywhere. That is OK for now but this will not be out last retirement home. I had cataract surgery this month and before that, I could not drive at night and I could barely read traffic signs during the day. I realized that if I can’t drive anymore, I don’t want to be stranded out here. If my wife, a two-time cancer survivor, should predecease me, I will probably go to an in-town senior apartment community or assisted living depending on how well I can take care of myself.

    by LS — September 29, 2022

  2. We are now in our early 70s and we spent considerable time while in our 50s and 60s taking care of aging relatives who outlived our parents. In two cases relatives had no children or other siblings so we took care of

    by Mark Phillips — September 29, 2022

  3. Where to begin…I’m 73, my husband 74…originally from Dubuque, Iowa, we are currently in the Florida Panhandle. We are both still working. We tried retiring twice by going back to Iowa to be near our son. He and his family live about 30 – 45 min west of Des Moines in a small farming community where his wife grew up. It didn’t work out because there’s 24 hours in a day…I love to cook and garden, but there’s 24 hours in a day…I’m not a volunteer. I don’t want to get stuck watching TV during the day. My husband is good at putzing so no problem there except it was boring in a small community. We aren’t crazy about where we live except for my job. I hate to give up that income. So, here we are thinking this time, we’ll move to Des Moines where there’s so much more to do. We can do day trips or so to get away,,, we like to bum but eventually it’s the same wherever you go just different scenery.
    I couldn’t stand the idea of a apartment community or assisted living where you go from healthy to declining. I don’t mind the 55+ communities but most are two story or apartment-like. I want my own yard…my own space.
    I’m probably going to have to find a part time job so I have something to do.
    what to do……

    by BRENDA — September 29, 2022

  4. We are now in our early 70s and we spent considerable time while in our 50s and 60s taking care of aging relatives who outlived our parents. In two cases relatives had no children or other siblings so we took care of them. This meant my wife had to give up her career. One thing I notice in the discussion is a realistic understanding of the process of moving to a CCRC. We have been on a waitlist for 3 years and were told to expect at least 2 more years. People are living longer and are downsizing within CCRCs. Also we notice that children are not willing to take care on their own. Talk to your children NOW and do not make any assumptions about their roles. Be clear about your expectations.

    by Mark Phillips — September 29, 2022

  5. Very good advice Mark. Times and expectations are definitely changing. NOW is the time. If we are lucky enough to live enough, there will be a time when it is not safe or healthy to live by ourselves.

    by John Brady — September 30, 2022

  6. Four years ago we retired from Boston to Tucson Arizona. We liked it for a while until Covid arrived that is. We didn’t see our family for nearly 3 years because we were afraid to fly. Our kids can’t afford to fly out here to visit us so we became very isolated and lonely. By the time we realized we needed to move back to Boston it was too late. We could not afford to buy anything. So we looked out further in central Mass and we think we have found a lovely over 55 community there.. It is still far from the kids. About a 2 1/2 hour drive but that is do-able for both us and them. We don’t need to be right on top of them. I just do not want any of us to have to fly to visit! We really did not want a house at this stage of our lives. So condo living is where we will spend the remainder of our lives. We are both happy with this decision.

    by Roberta — September 30, 2022

  7. Good Morning. Thank you for comments. They are helpful as I do have to make a Decision. I’m getting up there. & I do not like “Getting Old”!! & do not wish to be a burden.
    My Partner will stay here in the West for Family reasons & I do want to move back to Ontario.
    Probably “The Retirement Home” is the best consideration as have a Son who lives in NYC & a Daughter who lives in LA & both have their own Lives & do not need their Dad around!!
    So assume the best option is a Retirement Home in Ontario. They can visit & then leave!!
    & all are “Happy Camper’s”. So input is helpful as I do not the fear of being alone & do realize the need move on.
    The questions are “What & Why am I hesitant??”

    by BillyBogey — October 12, 2022

  8. Some things I’d love more information on 1) best housing option when single without family-friends near for care through end of life: Home-if ill & alone a problem, assisted living-disempowering environment-55 and up? 2) last phase of life renting vs owning-which is best 3)how to find out which states have the best medical care for seniors, RN’S, home-health, hospices, good RN care, responsive senior network for support, homecare, specialists. Thank you!

    by Vicki L — January 15, 2023

  9. The last 17 years of my Mom’s life was enjoyed by her at a wonderful CCRC in CT. Her last few years were in the assisted living section which allowed her a great balance of support and independence. Thank goodness, though, that my brother lived 25 minutes away. She fell frequently in her last 2 years and ended up in the ER for stitches, CT scans, etc. She had lost most of her ability to speak by then and I can’t imagine those ER visits without him there to be her advocate. This is something that haunts me as I head into my later years without a spouse or children.

    by CWS — January 16, 2023

  10. When I first heard about the Okinawan concept of Moai on a Bluezones program, it seemed like the perfect solution for single women (or men) finding themselves alone without children or close family/friends nearby in older age. My sister often complained about being in that situation and feared for her future, although it can happen to any of us. She liked the idea of forming a moai, but didn’t know where to start and felt it made her sound needy. I think it sounds practical. Instead of haphazardly trying to make friends, you meet for the agreed upon purpose of being supportive little think tanks and advocates for each other. You can still belong to your book club, garden club, exercise class, knitting group, prayer group, or any of the “survivor” groups which all provide support in their own way. Anybody know of this concept in their community?

    by Daryl — January 17, 2023

  11. Thanks for asking these questions Vicki. My response to the first one is that if you are single and have no close by family or friends, then assisted living or CCRC is the best choice. Not inexpensive, but at least you are guaranteed that you will be taken care of if you fall, get sick, etc. Living by yourself is lonely and risky as you get older and older. My uncle refused to move out of his house, almost died in the garage after a fall. A CCRC is great because it lets you transition as your needs change.

    Renting vs. owning is tougher. If you move into assisted living you are essentially renting, and CCRC’s normally require a big equity investment plus monthly payments, which selling your house could provide. You can get a reverse mortgage to tap your equity, but then you are living by yourself. You can’t get on Medicaid if you have too much money, so that gets tricky.

    Hard to know what states are best for medical care. Big cities and university towns tend to have the best medical care and range of providers. I would say research this topic in the areas you are interested in.

    by John Brady — January 17, 2023

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