How to Decide about “Aging in Place”

In the last few years, a number of studies found that about 90% of mature adults reported that they wanted to “age in place.” That is, they didn’t want to leave their homes; they didn’t see retirement communities or assisted living as desirable for themselves.

Recently, though, the number of people who plan to age in place has decreased some. People are noticing  that in-home caregivers, who may be needed at some point, are sometimes difficult to find. Others are concerned about becoming isolated as they stop working, drive less and generally are more cautious about venturing out at night or in inclement weather. And some people feel pressure to “make a decision now,” to move into a Continuous Care Retirement Community (a CCRC) where they can live independently, hearing that they will not be admitted by some CCRCs if they develop a need for health assistance.

Of course, you will make the choice that is best for you; but before you do, here are some ideas to think about that might help with your decision making. Your answers to these questions will help you make plans for staying in place.

  1. Have you completed a financial check-up? For example, how much money would you need to stay in your home or move to a retirement community? What can you afford now? If you stay in place, what arrangements have you made to ensure that your living arrangements, home maintenance, food, transportation, health care and entertainment are covered?
  • How is your health (and the health of anyone else with whom you live)? Do you have many health needs? Which friend or family member would you call on if you needed assistance with activities of daily living or a medical issue? Which professional agency might you hire?
  • How safe is your home? What adjustments would make your home safer if, for example, steps or bathtubs become a problem or someone in the home becomes confused?
  • How comfortable is your home? Would it be easier and safer to stay in your home if you sorted through and gave away some of your possessions and memorabilia? Do you have HVAC, seating, carpeting, etc. that are appropriate for any physical changes you may experience?
  • Can you socialize frequently? Do you live close to loved ones and friends whom you can easily see if transportation isn’t available or you do not drive? How might you stay in touch with friends and family from a distance, if necessary?
  • And, now looking at some of these questions, think again about your financial check-up. Are you ready for home modifications, assistance for health care and home maintenance, and other changes for your comfort and safety if staying in place is your choice? Budget now for the “just in case” scenes.

Answering these questions will provide you with a solid foundation for making healthy, safe and satisfying plans to stay in your home.

I would be happy to meet with you as you think through your plans . . . and help you find experts in finances, downsizing and such if you need these services.

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