Approximately thirty percent of the population of the United States is over the age of fifty-five. And over half of that number (16.5%) is over the age of sixty-five. Why does this matter? It matters, because on any given day, one or more of the 102,000,000 ‘+’ seniors in our nation are faced with making the decision of whether or not they can, or even want to, age in place.
Before we go any further, let’s make sure we all understand what that means. To age in place means to make any necessary adjustments and alternations to your current living space, so that you can remain living there safely and securely. Yes, even in the event that you or your spouse needs basic to more complex medical care, or if mobility is compromised, aging in place is possible if the proper steps are taken.
Okay, now that we know what we are talking about, let’s spend some time giving you a list of questions you need to ask yourself to see whether or not aging in place is right for you.
- Are you are living debt-free in your home? If so, moving someplace else may not be a sound financial choice for you. Or even possible.
- Will your income allow you to pay rent? Again, if you own your home free and clear, paying for home healthcare may be the more economical choice.
- Is your home in a safe area? If you are afraid to leave your house or if the crime rate is rising and values of the houses in your neighborhood are falling, it might be best to leave. That does not necessarily mean you have to go to a retirement home or assisted living facility. You can downsize and relocate to a safer area.
- Is your home located in close (or semi-close) proximity to the grocery store, doctor’s office, church, bank, and other necessary resources?
- Do you have a dependable neighbor or family member who will check on you daily just in case? Accidents can happen to anyone regardless of age or physical condition. Everyone needs an accountability partner, so to speak.
- Are you happy in your present home? If you aren’t, then why stay? Answer: You shouldn’t.
- Is your home senior-friendly? Or can it be made that way without breaking the bank and reducing its resale value?
- Do you have the resources to make the necessary adjustments and alternations? And to pay for home healthcare?
- Is your family situation one that is conducive to settling your estate once you are gone with little to no conflict and drama? Even though you will not be around to witness the drama, every parent’s hope is that their children will be able to get along during the process of settling the estate.
Example: Benny and Betty bought their home in 1958. They raised their family there, and when Benny died at the age of eighty-six, four years ago, Betty said she could not even think of leaving. But four years later, she is eighty-six, she is tired of mowing the lawn, tired of worrying about things like hot water heaters, rising property taxes, and going up and down the stairs to do laundry. She also has the issue to deal with that her children are not close…at all. So, between Betty’s weariness and the fact that she realizes it would be easier for her to ‘sell out’ than to leave it for the kids, she has decided to move. She knows she will be a cry-baby when it comes time to go, but she is also looking forward to having less to do and take care of.
Lowell and Laura, on the other hand, have no desire to leave their farm. They know they cannot take care of it anymore, so they put a legal plan in place to give each of their kids a section of the property now, with a few stipulations. One son and daughter in-law are building a house on their part of the property so that they can be there to help Lowell and Laura, and to continue the farming operation.
Both scenarios are great, because both are the decision of the senior. That is what it boils down to—or should. Whether or not you want to age in place should be up to you. BUT if you want to be the one to make that decision, you also need to be the one to make it happen. In other words, you need to be willing and able to provide the resources (mainly money) to make the necessary adjustments and alternations to your home. You also need to make sure you have the resources to pay for home healthcare in the event it is necessary.
While none of us has a crystal ball to see what the future holds, we can plan for the future by making wise choices in the present. So, take the time to ask and answer the list of questions provided. Once that has done, use your answers to help you determine what you should do and where you should live.
Guest post By Darla Nobel
The views expressed by the author may not reflect the views of Age Safe America, LLC. The content here should not be taken as medical, legal or financial advice. The content here is for informational purposes only, and because each person is so unique, please consult your own healthcare, legal or financial professional with any questions.