May 292012

Note: At the time this series of articles was written, my wife Beth was still with us. She died October 11, 2012.

Beth having lunch during our first week at Huntington Manor

Beth having lunch on the deck outside our room during our first week at Huntington Manor

As my weakness from Inclusion Body Myositis became more debilitating and Beth’s vision and cognitive issues worsened, we faced the big question – should we move to assisted living?

There were several aspects to this decision. Perhaps the most easy to evaluate was the financial. Perhaps the most difficult was the emotional.
And then there were family issues, especially children who were tired of worrying about us.

Being the analytical type, I prepared numerous spreadsheets trying to decide whether the move to an assisted living facility made financial sense. I discovered that, to obtain adequate care within our home, we would need to spend about as much as it would cost to get assisted living outside the home. However, there were so many other emotional issues involved that no amount of tweaking the numbers on the spreadsheet seemed to fully resolve the issue in either of our minds.

View from our home in Rancho Bernardo

We had promised ourselves to spend the rest of our years in our Rancho Bernardo home.

We had spent a lot of money on, and had a significant emotional attachment to, the changes we made to our existing home. It was single-story, easy to get around for us in wheelchairs, and had a very nice view out the living room window. We each had our individual art studios on either side of the spacious family room. We would have to say goodbye to all of that. In addition we would be downsizing dramatically from about 1600 ft.² to a little over 500 ft.²

Then there was the concern about our independence. Would we feel as though we were unable to live our own lives if we moved into a facility that had its own schedule and structure?

Eventually, the more I worked on the financial side of it, the more I realized that moving to some form of facility was going to become inevitable. If we remained where we were and continued to spend considerably more money than we had coming in, we would eventually reach the point where we had exhausted our savings and then what? We could sell the home, but then we would hardly have enough resources to maintain us in any other location for more than a few years. On the other hand if we moved and spent down our savings, we could retain our home and rent it, which would provide additional income during that time. Then, when the savings was depleted, we could sell the home and continue to live in the assisted living facility for several more years.

So, ultimately, the practical considerations and family concerns outweighed the emotional worries. How is it working out? Better than we expected. In the next article we will get into the details of how we chose Huntington Manor to be our home – conceivably for the rest of our lives.

Index for this series of articles about assisted living.

Introductory article plus updates.

Is it time for assisted living?

Making the decision to move to assisted living, emotionally, practically and financially.

How we chose the facility we did.

Deciding what to take, what to leave, how to adjust our expectations.

What life in assisted living has been like.

How can we make assisted living better for the physically disabled?

  11 Responses to “Mike and Beth’s Big Move, Part II – Time for Assisted Living?”

  1. Dear Mike and Beth,
    I know this was an agonizing decision for both of you, and especially for you, Mike. But I’m glad for you that you will have the care you need and still have some independence. Sending you both lots of love and hugs,

    • Thank you, Valli. As you know, it is never safe to think we’ve figured out our future. Since change is inevitable, best make friends with it, something you have accomplished with grace.

  2. I’m sad and happy for you both. I met you a year or so ago at Henry’s parking lot. I told you my sister, Jean freedman suffers from I.B M. also. She is doing OK at Emeritus in Del Mar. She can still go on some of their day trips. Jean enjoys being out, but is better when her daughter, me or a helper is with her.

    I hope you both adjust to assited living, take care.

    Janice Klerein

  3. Hello Janice, I am pleased that your sister can enjoy some of the activities Emeritus offers. Our needs were too specialized for most larger facilities, so we chose Huntington Manor and are adjusting fairly well.

    Mike Shirk

  4. I clicked on your site more out of curiosity and found out that you are in the middle of a surely life changing move. You are very brave to face reality head on. I did like your comparison to being on the Titanic and then having to face the iceberg situation.

    These days I find myself on somewhat parallel shores. It is only a question of time ( or one simple little accident) that I will render me totally helpless. I can still transfer on my own these days but the fear sits on my neck that I will make one tiny false move with unwanted consequences. Downsizing and a move is sooo overwhelming but we have to confront it, whether we like it or not. Winters in New England can be brutal and my husband, although fairly healthy now, is not getting any younger.

    Keep posting of your experiences. I wish you and your wife all the best. Dagmar

  5. Dagmar, it seems that most of us spend our lives accumulating things. Homes, furniture, china and crystal, art, tools, keepsakes, clothes, photographs. But in the end we must release it all and Inclusion Body Myositis, Myotonic Dystrophy and dementia have forced my wife and I to let go sooner than most. Now we will see what remains.

  6. Your blog is really well designed, and thought out. I do hope that your new living arrangements work out for you! Keep us informed, alright?

    God Bless,


    • Thank you, Heather. I enjoyed visiting your “difability” blog as well, especially the entries about transportation. I intend to revisit that topic soon myself.


  7. […] Making the decision to move to assisted living, emotionally, practically and financially. […]

  8. […] Making the decision to move to assisted living, emotionally, practically and financially. […]

  9. […] Making the decision to move to assisted living, emotionally, practically and financially. […]

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