Moving Out of State With COPD (or Not)
About a year ago, my husband and I made the decision to sell our home of 40 years and move halfway across the country to be closer to our son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. We are tired of the harsh New England winters. I do not want to face another season of winter with COPD. Our son lives in northern Texas. The move would be a big change for us from Massachusetts.
Tracking the weather daily for a year, I compared it to my own for humidity, dew points, and temperatures. With a list of the towns I considered living in, research was done on various medical facilities, doctors, reviews, and ratings. I spoke to a few people online that lived in the area that also have COPD. They gave me names of doctors to talk to, weather tips, and other possible issues.
Insurance is a big factor. COPD inhalers and oxygen are expensive. I am also diabetic and require insulin, also expensive. The state I live in provides me with supplemental insurance beyond Medicare. If I can't get the same type of coverage in Texas, the cost of my medications will not be in our budget. National Council of Aging helps me with benefits. They also helped me navigate the confusion of Medicare. I explained to them the information I needed. They put me in touch with the correct offices in Texas and people to talk to.
All this information is kept in a notebook bought just for this purpose. Now for the fun part, the house! We are pretty specific in our wants. We want our own land, not a retirement community. I looked at plans for new, modular housing because they can be built to our specifications. I scoured real estate listings to familiarize myself with home prices, neighborhoods, taxes, and available support facilities. An extensive review online gave me an idea of any problems and crime rates. My notebook is getting full!
While I was becoming very informed about what may be my new home, I was also becoming very overwhelmed. There were so many decisions to be made and work to be done. We have 40 years of belongings in this house. I was convinced we wouldn’t get through it. I started packing items not needed on a daily basis and throwing away what we didn’t want to take. After talking to moving companies, we discovered it would be less expensive to buy new furniture instead of moving what we had. There were a lot of decisions, a lot of uncertainty and second-guessing those decisions, and a few panic attacks along the way.
The time came. We were ready to list our home for sale. This was it. It was really happening! Then the pandemic hit and it all changed almost overnight. Massachusetts was hard hit in the beginning so selling was put on hold indefinitely. This gave me time to rethink our decision.
The final decision
It started with, what if I caught the virus? With severe COPD and diabetes, my survival rate is low. If we live in Texas, what would my husband do? He was born and raised in the town we currently live in. He was a business owner most of his life here and is pretty well known. He will always be surrounded by family and friends with activities to keep him busy in a familiar surrounding.
In Texas, there will only be our son and his family. They are young and very busy with children and careers. I am afraid my husband will end up being lonely. Even if he makes friends, it isn’t the same as what he built here throughout a lifetime. If the roles get reversed, it wasn't any different. My life has always been here. The rest of my family is here, a brother, cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Our final decision is to stay here in Massachusetts, at least for now. If you are thinking about downsizing and/or moving to another state, research everything. What is needed for your health, cost of living, weather differences, and triggers for flare-ups? If you don’t like it, can you financially afford to move again? Take a look at all options. Most of us can live with making spontaneous decisions in our thirties. Once we are in our fifties and sixties and older with a chronic illness, planning well is a necessity.
Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Carol passed away in February of 2022. Carol's storytelling and advocacy will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on through her articles and in all the people she inspired.
Do you have an emergency plan to deal with your COPD during a major storm?