One family’s reflections on a cross-country move.
Bache Whitlock relocated from Fredericksburg, Va. to the Spectrum community Lincoln Meadows Senior Living in Parker, Colorado, two years ago to be closer to his daughter, Erica, and her family. Not only does Whitlock, 73, enjoy his new community, but he actually enjoyed the process of relocating to Lincoln Meadows and was gracious enough to share his story. There are nuggets of wisdom in his narrative and useful advice for anyone facing a major transition.
Whitlock’s life in Fredericksburg was full with friends, part-time employment, and odd jobs around the house. But, when he started to experience declines associated with aging and became unable to manage the responsibilities of owning a home, he knew it was time for a change. He explains, “I knew I had to move. The time had come. I didn’t feel sad or worried, I just knew it had to be done. I couldn’t take care of the house and yard any longer.”
Whitlock contacted his daughter Erica, in Denver, for advice. He had visited the Denver area many times before and was intrigued with the idea of living close to his daughter and her family.
“I was actually surprised when he agreed to find a suitable community and make the move,” Erica says. She was excited about the prospect of her father being closer to her as well—nervous, but excited.
“I wanted to make sure that this move was his choice. I tried to not pressure him or sway his decision in any way,” Erica recalls. “I knew I wanted him to move out here and to live in Lincoln Meadows, and I was overjoyed when he decided to do both.”
On The Road Again
Mr. Whitlock pared down his belongings, unloading years of accumulated and unnecessary “stuff” and packed up for the move. He purchased a Dodge Ram truck—much to his daughter’s dismay—attached a trailer to it, and began the cross-country adventure. His son accompanied him on the journey; they enjoyed their share of bathroom breaks, gas-ups, and roadside delights, a memorable trip for father and son.
When Whitlock landed at Lincoln Meadows in Colorado, he transitioned easily into his new home and surroundings. Erica, who had been worried about the move and whether her dad would be able to make friends and create a new community for himself, describes her feelings of relief as he settled in. “Dad has always been social and I had a feeling he would make friends,” she says. “But it’s nice to see it. He’s basically the mayor of Lincoln Meadows and when he’s away his cell phone doesn’t stop ringing. He is also one of the token bachelors there. We tease him about it.”
Whitlock has become a leader and is thriving in the community. He thoroughly enjoys Lincoln Meadows; everything from the wonderful staff to his fellow residents, his loving family and the Rocky Mountains.
Learning From The Experience
Moving across the country invites opportunities for growth, expansion and many moments of character building. When asked how to successfully move across the country and to relocate in later life, Whitlock explains, “The family is critical. It’s all about tapping into your support system and knowing someone is on the other side of where you’re planning to move.”
Whitlock emphasizes the importance of having his daughter advocate for him, do the research for potential communities, and the reassurance of her being there to help him transition into his new home. Creating community and reaching out to make friends after the move was vital and his ability to do this played an important role in his happiness today.
From the perspective of the adult child, Erica encourages others to “be supportive of their loved one’s choices and ability to make their own decisions about when and how they wish to move and relocate.”
Communication and choice are important components to the moving process. Mr. Whitlock and Erica were skilled at honoring these and, as a result, it set them up for a successful transition. Their moving story is worth emulating.
All The Right Moves
Tips for planning and making the move into a senior community:
Seek the support of loved ones. Ask family and friends to help research and advocate on your behalf.
Consider the options. Where do you want to live? What kind of community and lifestyle do you seek?
Know the time. Are the burdens of homeownership becoming too much? Would you like to downsize? Only you can decide when it’s time to move.
Clean house. Pare down your belongings to what matters most, and what you truly want to keep.
Reach out. Seek to make new friends in your new community. They made a similar move and understand where you’re coming from.