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Remaining in Your Home for Life

Last update on: Apr 21 2016

Remaining in their current homes for as long as possible is a priority of most adults over 65. About 80% don’t want to move, according to AARP. There are obstacles to remaining in the same home as the years go on. Fortunately, aging in place is possible for more people than only a few years ago.

To remain in your home as long as possible, develop and implement a plan well before the obstacles have to be dealt with. Take advantage of the numerous resources now available. You also need to carefully consider the additional costs of remaining in your home indefinitely. At some point it might be cost-effective to move.

The obstacles to aging in place include mobility and self-care, medication management, socialization, and transportation.

Mobility and self-care often are related. Many mobility issues can be handled by modifying the residence. But the older the residence is the more significant and costly the modifications might be. Common modifications include ramps to one or more doors, elevators or chair lifts to supplement stairs, and walk-in tubs or showers. Also common is changing door knobs and cabinet handles to levers that are compatible for those with arthritis or other joint problems.

Your state or local government likely has information on how to modify a home. Contact your local Area on Aging or Social Services agency. There also might be a class or two available in an adult education program.

If you’re living alone, loved ones are likely to want some kind of monitoring or reporting. This could be as simple as your calling or emailing adult children once or twice each day. There also are noninvasive monitors that don’t use cameras. Motion sensors linked to the internet, for example, let adult children know if there is no movement in your home. Other technologies are available with varying costs.

One source to consider for specific technology and other modification to your home is First Street for Boomers and Beyond at www.firststreetonline.com or 800-704-1209.

Reduced mobility means at some point you might need help around the home ranging from cleaning and maintenance to helping you perform daily tasks of living to providing medical care. Home health care agencies and companies can provide these services. The services often are covered by long-term care insurance but not by Medicare except under limited circumstances. You should weigh the costs of home aid and care against the cost of moving to a residence with such services.

Inability to manage medications and other medical care is a major reason people need to leave their homes. Technology can be a powerful aid here, as a number of devices and services can help ensure you take medications as prescribed, for example. Your doctor or other medical provider probably has good knowledge of what is available and works.

Socialization is an often overlooked retirement need. Successful aging requires regular and frequent social interaction and mental stimulation. When neighbors and family aren’t available to fill the need, you need to take actions such as joining organizations and attending classes. Many areas have free or low-cost education programs geared for those in their post-career years. You’ll be around people your own age (or you can choose activities with younger people) and learn new things.

Of course, you need transportation to ensure you meet your daily needs, receive medical care, and attend the social and education activities. At some point your driving might be limited. Your options at that point depend on where you live and your finances. Some areas have free or low-cost transportation options for seniors. In other areas you rely on friends, taxis, nonprofit groups, and public transportation to the extent they are available. Before making many home modifications be sure your transportation needs will be met.

A solution worth considering is the ?local village? concept. This is a relatively new but is spreading.

Many people bought their homes long ago. Others in their general areas did the same. The result is a fairly large group in the same general area with similar needs and interests. For these people the local village concept was developed in the Boston area in 2000.

Every village is different, depending on the needs and wants of those in the area. But the overriding goal is to help people age in place.

There’s a Concierge Village in which a nonprofit organization collects annual dues from members and pro-vides education and social events, vets providers of different services, and coordinates the provision of services. The All Volunteer Village is similar but there are no dues; volunteers provide all the services. There’s also a Neighborhood Network that is informal and also depends on volunteers. It mostly provides education and social activities, such as group meetings to hear speakers.

Your locality might have a program or general information to help communities form villages or let residents know about local villages already operating. More details about villages and how to form one are available at www.vtvnetwork.org.

A similar concept is the naturally-occurring retirement community (NORC). The Jewish Federations of North America initiated this program and it now, with federal funding assistance, has about 40 in place in 25 states. The aim is to help people age in place by coordinating services that already are available through health and social service agencies and organizations. You can learn more details at www.norcs.org.

Aging in place is desirable and a goal of many. But the goal is not simply to stay in your home. You also should try to have a more satisfying and successful retirement. To do that, you need to plan and take action, and it is best to do that before you reach the point of needing some assistance.

RW June 2014.

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