First of all, what is "Aging in Place?" Put simply, this is actually a very common retirement choice for senior citizens, as it as an alternative to living in a nursing home.
Aging in place is living in the same house once retirement has passed, either for an individual or couple. This is common because it is the desired choice for people who want to spend their remaining days at home, rather than a hospital or senior citizen community.
The realities of aging in place, however, are essential for families to plan for. Many people do not anticipate the needs and accommodations that must be made if one wants to live at their home at a certain age, which can lead to frustration, stress and anxiety.
Now, this may not be a decision that you or someone you know has to face at this moment. It could be years down the road. Just know that the sooner you plan for aging in place, the more likely it will be a satisfactory living condition for you or your loved once.
It is for that reason that we must go over some basic things you must know and acknowledge while making key decisions.
1. Your lifestyle will change dramatically.
This varies depending on the person, but many of the capabilities you have now will be limited in some capacity sooner or later. Your physical strength, eyesight, endurance hearing and other capabilities you may take for granted will gradually decline, which means you must be prepared for how this will affect your lifestyle.
Eventually, it may be too difficult for you to live on your own, as the health risks of falling and heart attacks may rise. This must all be taken into account as you prepare your home for daily living.
2. Independence needs planning.
If you want to age in place, it is essential that you prepare for what will be required. This includes financial planning and knowing what your health insurance will cover as you age.
To avoid the risks highlighted in #1, it may be necessary for you to install accommodations in your home that will make it easier for you to move around and live independently. These types of changes may require a lot of money and time, so it is important to prepare for this now.
Additionally, you may need to hire medical help, such as a home nurse, depending on the health needs you anticipate. Again, this will require financial planning if you want it to be affordable.
3. Your family can be a great help.
If some of the financial sacrifices above are too large for you to handle, consider what your family is willing and able to offer. You may be unsure of this, so it is important to communicate with them ahead of time in order to know where they stand.
The benefits of having a family help you are numerous, in that they can provide the support and basic help you need to live the life you want. They may be able to live with you, help you clean, prepare meals and even be there in case you get hurt.
Unfortunately, this option may not be readily available depending on your situation, but it is worth seeking out if your resources for aging in place are limited. If you want the people close to you to help you on these important matters, be sure to include them in these conversations now, rather than later.
4. Prepare for the worst.
Some of the biggest decisions you need to make when it comes to where you're living and what you will be leaving behind should be made now or very soon. You never know when a catastrophe (both monetarily or physically) will happen, so staying ahead will benefit you greatly.
It's great to have an idea of when you want to retire and if you're open to downsizing to a smaller home once you no longer have children and want to save money. Of course, you also want to make sure that your will has been prepared and is updated accordingly, even if you're young.
Additionally, it's important to keep an official record of all of these decisions, not just a will. In the event that you will not be able to make these decisions in the future, an official record can protect you.
Aging in place can be difficult to think about and prepare for, but the work and sacrifices can lead to a phase in your life that really is the "golden years."