The reasons to consider aging at home are tangible, relevant and emotional. The primary reason is that your home is your comfort zone, your memories are there and most people resist change. Depending upon how you view your retirement years, you may feel that a known and comfortable place is the best place for you to be. While that may be the case, it is important to plan. Approaching that plan is not as daunting as you might imagine. According to the National Aging in Place Council, "Americans of all ages value their ability to live independently. But without aplan for aging in place, it can be hard to stay in control of your life. Knowing your health risks and financial options can make a big difference in your ability to stay in a familiar place."
Making the decision
Aging at home should be considered a major decision, rather than happening because you're already there or you don't believe it will ever be a problem. Start the decision process by listing the pros and cons of staying in your home and follow with open discussion with friends and family. Friends can point out aspects of your personality that you may not have considered and family certainly will be impacted by your choice. Health, transportation, homemaking and home maintenance, social connections and financial considerations all need to be considered. While one may be healthy and in control of all of those areas now, the reality is that life does change, a fact that many people find difficult to consider or accept.
Considerations and steps to take for aging at home
- Make a personal list of the pros and cons of your own situation, focusing on what is most important to you and discuss your thoughts with friends. Also share your thoughts with family members who will be impacted with your final decision.
- Visit independent living communities in your area so that you will have a feel for options other than staying in your home. You will want to compare amenities including social, recreational and transportation. That comparison will help with your assessment of finances.
- Consider the support systems that are readily available near your home including
- Transportation, which is emotionally challenging because no one wants to admit that there will come a time when driving is no longer an option.
- Living assistance for meals, general homemaking and maintenance.
- Social connections are very important and ease of maintaining those should be carefully considered.
- Exercise, the daily importance of which for seniors is being established by many studies.
- Proximity of healthcare facilities.
- To assess your home as future health issues may arise, it is best to hire a professional. Start with the National Association of Home Builders, where you will find information about what to consider and professionals who can assess your home. A Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS) is someone trained to carefully consider what accommodations your house might need now and in the future to accommodate changes in health and mobility. The Aging in Place Initiative offers valuable information that will help guide you to thoughtful consideration for your future. You can find out about workshops in your area, learn from others who have stayed in their homes.
Knowledge and planning will give you confidence. It's your future. Be in control.