Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickie: “How Can I Convince My Husband We Need to Move?”

My husband and I will be married thirty years this fall. We are currently in our third house. Fifteen years ago we moved to Florida because we both “retired” due to health issues. We’re both legally blind and could no longer work at our respective jobs. But he hated the humidity and my mother was ill, so we moved back up North. Now my husband has been dealing with medical issues — one after another since we moved back. The house we live in is two-story and he is currently in a wheelchair for another eight months with three months down.

I want to move to a one-floor home with less maintenance, maybe one that has a homeowners’ association that takes care of the outside. He does not and will not talk about it. I am guessing he thinks his life is short and can’t/doesn’t want to deal with a move. My thinking is that, whatever time is left, it would be nice to enjoy. He has been sleeping on the couch and the first floor has been semi-converted for his use. There’s a bathroom but no shower.

So, now what? This place is not working for us. We have been here almost four years and our health is different now than when we first moved in. We do not drive and so we need special services for appointments. His family lives about 15 miles away, but everyone is busy and his folks are snowbirds in the winter. Can you please advise? — Time to Move

You’re going to have to do all the legwork yourself. Find exactly what it is you’re looking for, which sounds like an assisted living facility where the two of you can have your own apartment with privacy and without the responsibility of owning/living in a house and all that comes with that (like yard maintenance), but with the support you need, like on-site medical care, assistance with transportation, and some meals. Figure out how you’ll pay for it, what you’ll do with your current home and all yhe stuff you won’t be able to move with you, when you could move, and who might be able to help you move. In addition to researching actual assisted living facilities (and visiting them and applying for a spot), you will probably have to research estate sale companies, moving companies, and real estate agents who can help you list your current house (if you own it) and give you an idea what you can expect to make from it.

Once you have all the details (but before you sign on any dotted lines), present your husband with the plan and explain why it’s in both your best interest to move to a smaller place with less maintenance where your respective disabilities and limitations will be supported. If he fights you on this, enlist the help of his family to help persuade him. I believe you’re probably right about your husband not wanting to “deal with a move,” so the easier you make it seem to him — and for you, that means doing all the research and legwork yourself (or with the help of family and friends) — and the better you portray your lifestyle benefitting, the harder it will be for him to say no. Good luck.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

10 comments… add one
  • Sunshine Brite July 22, 2015, 8:33 am

    What does he like about the house itself? What sort of cash do you have? Disability services can sometimes step in with people who have more than normal services if aging is involved. I know there’s a program in this state for people over 65 where it’s more cost sharing than standard programs that’s meant to keep people in the community. It’s part of an overall federal initiative so something similar might be available in your state to do things like put in a chair lifts, provide chore and maintenance assistance, etc. That could help take the burden off you and keep your husband in his home of choice.

    If that’s not an option, the people you talk to should be able to provide other options.

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  • ArtsyGirl July 22, 2015, 8:47 am

    I have somethings found that if I frame a situation in a slightly different manner, it can help people see my point of view. LW, you mention that your husband feels that he does not have much time left and that he does not want the hassle of the move, but perhaps if you explain how much this would help YOU after he is gone he would see the long term benefits. After all, if he passes or ends up permanently in the hospital, you will have to do all this stuff on your own and possibly in a short period of time. You want to move mostly for him, perhaps you can get him to see a move as necessary for you as well. I completely agree with Wendy and would do the legwork now (with maybe two great options of places to live so he can help make the final decision). Best of luck.

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  • Skyblossom July 22, 2015, 9:18 am

    Assisted living is beyond the reach of many people. It easily runs $4ooo a month and doesn’t provide the nursing care of a nursing home. My aunt is in assisted living and she is having balance problems so if she falls too often she is sent to rehab because assisted living doesn’t provide the level of nursing care that she requires.

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  • Laura Hope July 22, 2015, 9:22 am

    Moving is a very big deal and change gets harder as you get older. Here’s what I’d do– find a place that you think would work, take him there and see how he feels. If he likes it, offer to do the legwork. If he won’t budge, consider that he’s happier sleeping on the couch and not showering than he would be in a new place. Can you live with that? Consider that I have known many people who would choose to die in pain in their own home than on meds in the hospital. But their families force them to die in the hospital. I know this is a different situation but there is an emotional piece to consider. Of course, if you’re really not okay with it, that’s another story.

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  • Essie July 22, 2015, 9:39 am

    Options for seniors have expanded a lot in recent years. It may be that your husband is picturing an old-fashioned nursing home, and that’s why he’s resisting.
    There are places now that offer different levels of care. If you’re fairly independent, you can start with a cottage/bungalow/duplex – a smallish separate house, where you take care of yourselves and live your life pretty much as you had been, and the facility handles landscaping, snow removal, trash pickup, maintenance, etc. They also often offer visiting nurses if necessary, and transportation to appointments. Then, if you end up needing more care, there’s assisted living, and then full nursing care.
    My dad was very, very resistant to moving into one of those places. He liked his independence and privacy, and would never have been happy in an apartment, eating in a common dining room, etc. But when he found about about the cottages, he was all in. They love their place. It’s a bright, sunny, well-appointed little home, and they live as they always have, but other people take care of the heavy labor that he can’t do anymore. And help is very close by if there’s an emergency.
    Look for a place like that, do the research, figure out the finances, and present it to him. I’ll bet he’d be much happier in a place like that than sleeping on a sofa. And as ArtsyGirl said, he’ll know that he’s got you set up in a place where you can be safe and comfortable for the rest of your life, if anything happens to him.

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  • Suzy July 22, 2015, 10:15 am

    Assisted living can be very expensive. If this couple has been on disability for years, chances are that they don’t have that kind of money. I think the LW needs to research other options. Why not downsize to a small condo or even apartment? It will have to be something they can afford and in a location that is accessible.

    I agree that the wife will have to do the legwork, and will basically have to put her foot down. She needs to explain that she can no longer care for him in this home.

    This is a difficult issue for many retirees. It’s scary and painful to think about giving up independence as well as familiar surroundings. Also, it’s scary to realize that the loss of abilities is permanent and that the end of life is nearing. My own parents are in this situation – my father doesn’t want to move from the home he’s owned for over 25 years, but my stepmom simply cannot manage him on her own anymore. She needs help. She enlisted my support in convincing him that it’s time. Fortunately, they can afford assisted living and will choose something soon.

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  • Miss MJ July 22, 2015, 11:54 am

    LW, I’m not clear on what your health issues are, but from what you wrote, it doesn’t sound like you necessarily need 24-hour health care or anything. My reading is that you need transportation due to your disability, living in a one-floor home would increase your husband’s quality of life and that you’d prefer to have someone else manage yard work and routine maintenance.
    Assuming that is the case, I like your idea of buying a condo or getting an apartment. You retain your autonomy, but also have the benefit of easy access, maintenance personnel and, in many cases, security personnel, as well. And this is how I’d sell the idea to your husband: how much EASIER life would be without worrying about the stairs, the yard and house maintenance. Focus on how freeing it would be to be able to focus on enjoying your day-to-day lives instead of having to worry about those details. Also, if he likes to swim or what have you, focus on condos that offer or are close to those amenities. Maybe even see if you can find something that is close enough to shops and restaurants that you can walk/wheel to. It may be a bit outside of your current area, depending on where you live now, but the ability to get milk from a corner store instead of having to rely on someone else to take you or bring it to you and the freedom to go grab dinner on your own is well worth the hassle of moving to a more urban area, even if you do need transportation for other errands and appointments. Finally, if he’s still resistant, you may have to just put your foot down and tell him that trying to maintain a two-story house that you both don’t really use all of, plus a yard, plus transportation logistics and managing your health care has become too much and that you need to eliminate the unnecessary stress of a two-story home, and a yard and simplify your lives. This is a partnership and at some point, he may have to compromise on living as you always have because it’s hard to face growing older in order to make your lives better.

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  • freckles July 22, 2015, 3:13 pm

    You could also look into a 55+ community. My grandparents and my mom and stepdad all live in one, and they love it. They have a reasonably sized one-story house with a garage, a screened-in porch, and a deck. They pay a small maintenance fee, and the community takes care of mowing, watering, shoveling, plowing, etc. In addition, each of their communities has tons of committees and activities. There’s usually a pool, tennis court, gym, poker groups, pool tables, aerobics. My grandmother, who was never one to be very social, joined the Red Hat Society, which was just a bunch of women who wore purple shirts and red hats and went to lunch. And she LOVED it. My point being, being in a community like that, where everyone around you is about your own age, with lots of activities, and someone to take of the tough stuff, sounds like it would be good for both you. Social activities help the mind and soul 🙂
    That, plus possible in-home care when needed could possible suit your needs as well, depending on your level of need. Again, without being sure exactly how severe both your medical needs are and how much care and help you need.

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    • Skyblossom July 22, 2015, 7:53 pm

      There is a red hat club here! They all go to lunch or dinner wearing their red hats. You instantly know when the red hat club is in the restaurant. They all have fun together.

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      • Portia July 22, 2015, 10:06 pm

        The red hat club sounds adorable.


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