Many retirees are expected to reside in a senior living community as they age, but it doesn’t have to be that way for you. Here’s how to successfully and comfortably age in your own home.

Article by Lynne Giacobbe

One of the complexities of retirement is not only figuring out how you’re going to live during the next stage of your life, but where you want to live, then successfully exercising that preference.

For many retirees, the conventional wisdom has been that in order to age successfully, you need to sell your home and move into a senior living ‘community’ – be that an independent living community, a continuing care retirement community, or some form of ‘assisted’ living.

There are a growing number of options for seniors, especially as the second half of our generation, the Baby Boomers, enter retirement over the rest of this decade. In fact, more than 10,000 people a day will turn 65 between now and 2030.

But if you ask this very independent-minded group of active seniors, the vast majority will tell you that they would much prefer to age in their own homes. In fact, recent AARP data shows that 77% of adults over the age of 50 want to remain in their homes for the long term.

Ideally, you could get both the comfort and independence of home with the care you may require as your needs change. It’s a model that more seniors are choosing either by joining a membership program or designing their own plan.

From my experience, aging in place takes a lot of planning. You’ll need a support system, financial security, and the ability to coordinate the necessary at-home care when you need it – a factor many folks don’t fully consider until it’s too late. It’s also important to prepare your home to be safe and accommodating – stairs come to mind – as you experience the physical limitations age often brings.

Here are three big areas to think about:

Care Coordination

Health care is perhaps the trickiest part of aging at home. In institutions, the processes are established, repeated, and optimized. Coordinating your own in-home care can be messy, time-consuming, and overwhelming. The more overwhelmed (or infirm) you are, the greater the stress can be on friends and family members. And when these friends and family members take part in your decisions, they may lack the necessary objectivity, judgment, and training to make the best choices for you.

Fortunately, these issues have spawned a new professional category to handle the challenge: care coordinators. Whether you have the flu or broken hip, care coordinators are there to take care of your needs, and not only the medical ones. They can arrange for meals, transportation, home safety, and professional referrals. In every case, good care coordinators take the pressure off friends and family by addressing not only the urgent needs you have today, but the potential needs you’ll have six months, a year, or five years down the road. A good care coordinator is a zealous advocate for your interests and preferences. They’re fully vetted, available 24/7, and take the time to get to know you and your family.

Care Coverage

Life is unpredictable. No matter how healthy and active you are now, there’s an 80% chance that you will need long-term care. And it’s expensive. The average duration of long-term care is 4.5 years. For a 40-hour week, that’s $205,000. For 24/7 coverage care, that’s nearly $900,000. If you don’t establish a plan, someone else will make your plans by default.

As you ensure your future independence, it’s crucial to plan carefully for who will manage your care and how it will be paid for. Check out nonprofit options for long-term care management. If you can secure a lifetime guarantee of care and services with a sensible upfront investment, that will provide a lot of peace of mind.

Planning for Healthy Aging

Another less visible challenge of aging is the disappearance of daily structure, often in the form of a job. For some, that’s a pure blessing. Many of us, however, need a robust support system of family, friends, community, or professional advocates to ensure our later years are as rewarding as they can be.

You want to stay actively engaged in the world, vigorous, and pursuing purpose for as long as possible. Many retirees take on “second acts” in the form of entrepreneurship, the arts, education, or volunteering. To live well, you’ll want resources you can call upon for help eating well, staying fit, constantly learning, interacting with friends, serving others, contributing to your community, and feeling valued. If you’re particularly resourceful, you can satisfy these needs as you go along. If not, you can seek out community or professional services. Just don’t leave it purely to chance.

Life is full of challenges, and aging is certainly one of them. But with careful planning, you can do it your way and savor all life has to offer for as long as you live.


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Aging in Place , Age in place, universal design , elderly , seniors ,