Part 32: A Senior’s Quandary—To Move or Not to Move Near Loved Ones

Welcome Joan’s Journeyers to my July musings. As a senior, considering to move closer to loved ones seems like a no-brainer. What better solution to the inevitability of old age than proximity to the people dearest to us?

Now take a deep breath and reflect upon the question. Moving and living closer to relatives is not a one-way decision; it is a decision that a senior and their adult children, and in most cases, many more folks have input in. Whether moving across town, across counties or across the country, as I did, moving closer to family or significant others is a shared, life-changing experience.

I am one of the fortunate seniors, says Sam Rosenberg, executive director, Holiday Villa East, (HVE), an independent living community in Santa Monica, California. An attorney with 30 years of assisting seniors and their families, Rosenberg has a wealth of knowledge and is a gold mine of anecdotes relating to successful and not-so-successful seniors who move to live closer to dear ones.

Happily, Rosenberg notes that I have the recipe for successful senior living near my family because: 1) I chose to move to senior living, 2) I chose the location after consulting and planning with my family on both coasts, and 3) I chose the senior community where I live.

Rosenberg bases his assessment on the Hierarchy of Needs motivational theory model developed in the United States by motivational psychologist Abraham Maslow. In the Maslow hierarchy, when lower needs are satisfied, higher needs may be addressed.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

  1. Biological and psychological needs: basic life needs of air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, and sleep
  2. Safety needs: protection, security, order, law, limits, and stability
  3. Belongingness and love needs: family, affection, relationships, work and groups
  4. Esteem needs: achievement, status, responsibility, and reputation
  5. Self-actualization: personal growth and fulfillment

Meeting the Hierarchy of Needs is Crucial for Seniors and Significant Others

What does the Hierarchy of Needs Theory have to do with successful senior living? Everything, Rosenberg explains. In many cases, elderly folks are at a lower hierarchy than adult children remember. A parent who functioned at Levels 4-5, may ascend to the basic needs of Level 1.

As long as adult children and/or significant others are functioning at their own highest capacity, they can accept the changes and needs of the elderly senior. If the adult children have difficulties with their own functioning, problems may develop in assisting their elderly family members or significant others.

Joan’s Journeyers, I personally find the Hierarchy of Needs to be an eye-opener. In our next post, I will share why Rosenberg says I am one of the lucky ones because of my family relationships. I will retell Rosenberg’s two real-life anecdotes:  one family in sync and one out of sync with their Hierarchy of Needs. The stories and the outcomes are informative.

Are you in sync with your needs and those of your family members? and I invite you to share your comments in the Comments section. Until the next post, enjoy your journey day by day.

Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children and grandchildren.

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