Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Age In Place - Retire Where You Live Now

Although this blog often contains articles about exotic places to retire, according to AARP about three-quarters of retirees would like to stay in their current home or, at the very least, in their current neighborhood.  There are a few issues that can make this difficult, however,  First, your current home may be too expensive to support once you are living on a fixed income.  Second, it may not be properly designed to accommodate someone who is aging, especially if they develop any disabilities (which is the situation for about two-thirds of people by age 85).  For example, a multistory home, like the ones in this photo, may need to be adapted or replaced with a single story home, if you plan to age in place.

However, despite a few challenges, you do not have to give up your dream of retiring where you currently live.  You just need to plan properly.  Below are some things to consider, as well as some tips to make it easier for you to age in place.

Can You Afford to Stay Where You Are?

Are you going to be retiring with a mortgage or high taxes and maintenance costs on your current home?  Now may be the time to look for a smaller home in your current area.  Sometimes just moving a short distance to a smaller house will make it easier for you to continue to live in your present neighborhood.  This means you do not have to change the places you shop, the doctors you see, the church you attend, access to your family and friends, etc.

It's important that you make this change before you retire.  You don't want to go through your savings before you move and you want to make major lifestyle changes while you are as young as possible.  It will be much easier.  In addition, if you need to have a mortgage on your new home, it will be easier to qualify for the loan and you will get a lower interest rate if you make the move while you are still working.

Modifications You May Want to Make to Your Retirement Home

Whether you decide to stay in your current house or move to a smaller one nearby, you may need to make some modifications.  It is smart to do these things while you are still working and before you are living on a fixed income.  Making these modifications could help you stay out of a nursing home and in your own home much longer.

Here are some of the changes you may want to make:

A downstairs bedroom with full bathroom
OR Getting a stair lift for your staircase
Grab bars in the bathrooms
A shower chair
Automatic night lights in a variety of outlets (including battery powered night lights
Non-slip mats under area rugs
Raise your electrical outlets so that they are easier to reach
Replace door knobs with levers
Rearrange cabinets so you never need to climb on a chair to get commonly used items 

Some of these items, such as owning a shower chair or installing night-lights, can be done immediately and very inexpensively.  Other changes, such as designing a downstairs master bedroom with full bathroom or installing a stair lift, can be more complicated or expensive.  However, in some cases you could remodel your current home by expanding a downstairs half bath into a full bath and making minor alterations to a rarely used downstairs room that is currently being used as a formal dining room, den or home office.  If this will not work for you, then it might be best to move to another, nearby home.

You may also be eligible for financial assistance in remodeling your home to make it work for you, especially if you have some specific disabilities.  Check the resources at the bottom of this article for links to sites that can provide you additional information about obtaining financial assistance to make modifications to your home.

Depending on the health issues you or your spouse have, there are some specific modifications you could do that would make your home more handicapped accessible.  For example, if someone in your home uses a wheel chair, you may need wider doorways, a more accessible bathtub and lower kitchen cabinets.  You should take these alterations into consideration if you are doing any other remodeling in your home.

Be Sure You Can Call For Help When You Need It 

If you are living alone in your home, without nearby relatives or caregivers, you need to make sure it is easy for you to summon help when you need it.  For example, you might want to get a medical alert device that you wear as a pendant.  You might also want to install an alarm system on your home or obtain other high-tech devices so you know if someone enters your home.

Adding a few simple items of technology will increase your security and make you less likely to feel helpless after a fall or injury.

For example, medical alert devices that you wear as a pendant can be used to connect you with a live operator when you push a button.  The operator can call a relative or neighbor for you or, when necessary, contact emergency personnel.

A security system will discourage burglars.  It can also be setup with a loud chime that will alert you if anyone enters your home while you are there.  If the alarm goes off when you are not at home, the company will automatically notify the police that there has been an unauthorized entry.  In addition, if a fire starts in your home, you will be awakened by a piercing alarm and the fire department will automatically be summoned. 

Making use of these high-tech devices could save your life and make it much safer and easier for you to age in place and stay in your own home.

Join Your Local Senior Center

If you decide to remain in your own home when you retire, it would be a smart decision to become involved with your local senior center.  They provide a variety of services that include exercise programs, entertainment, activities, informative classes, low-cost meals and access to a variety of senior services such as free tax preparation, meals-on-wheels or transportation to doctor's offices. 

For the same reasons, you will want to stay involved in your current activities as long as possible, including your church or temple, book club, bridge group, or social organizations. 

Participating in as many community activities as possible is important for your physical and mental health.  They will also help you avoid one of the most serious problems experienced by many people who age in their own homes, away from other senior citizens ... loneliness.

You will also want to use the tabs at the top of this blog for more information about retirement planning.

Learn More by Checking out These Sources:

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Strokes Cause Death and Disability

While most people are more concerned about heart disease and cancer, strokes are also a risk that you should take seriously, especially if you have high blood pressure.  Because many people do not feel ill prior to their stroke, it is often called the silent killer.  It can strike you down anywhere ... while driving a car, taking a walk or puttering around your house.

A stroke happens when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted.  This damages the brain cells in the portion of the brain that is deprived of oxygen.  Nerve cells can begin to die within minutes.  Usually this happens because a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the neck or brain.

About 800,000 people experience strokes in the United States every year; sadly, about 80% of them are considered preventable.

Symptoms of a Stroke

How can you tell if someone is having a stroke?  Experts suggest that you think of the word FAST.  The letters stand for:

F - Face Drooping
A - Arm Weakness
S - Speech Difficulty
T - Time to Call 9-1-1

It is extremely important that you get to a hospital immediately if you suspect that you or someone you know is having a stroke.  There are treatments that can often keep you from having permanent damage as a result of a stroke, but they only work if administered within the first three hours.  Since it takes a little time to diagnose the stroke and set up the treatment, you should try to get the patient to the hospital within the first hour or two.

Stroke Risk Factors

Below are the risk factors that make you more likely to have a stroke.  Fortunately, some of these are the result of lifestyle choices you can change.  Other risk factors can be controlled with medication.  If you want to live a long, healthy life, then you need to take immediate steps to reduce your risk factors wherever possible.

*  High blood pressure is the most significant cause of strokes.  If you consistently have a blood pressure reading of above 140/90 then you are at an increased risk.

*  If you have had a prior stroke, you are at greater risk of another one.

*  Family history of a stroke also increases your risk.

*  Diabetes

*  Heart disease, including atrial fibrillation

*  Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle

*  High cholesterol

*  Smoking

*  Alcohol and/or drug abuse

*   Aging -- the one factor that affects all of us


"Strokes: Know Your Risks," Answers Magazine, 2015, pg. 54

For more information about medical issues that could affect you, use the tab at the top of this page to be connected to dozens of additional articles about health concerns.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Best Cold Climate Areas for Retirement

Are you willing to live in a cold climate when you select your ideal retirement community?  While many people think of Florida or Arizona as the sunny, warm spots where they want to live, other people are more interested in issues such as affordable housing, low taxes, generous long-term care benefits from Medicaid and the possibility of working for at least some of the years after they turn 60.  In addition, they may want to live in senior-friendly small towns with less traffic and low crime.

In November, 2014, Money Magazine offered their list of the "Best Places to Retire," based on criteria that did not factor in the weather.  As a result, they came up with choices that are different from the typical list of retirement locations which we frequently see listed.  All of these places get snow and icy weather.  However, as a trade-off, they have other qualities that may be more important to many retirees. 

Money Magazine divided their choices into the three categories shown below:

Most Affordable Place to Retire

Bella Vista, Arkansas - With a median home price of about $100,000 and a median rent of $900, as well as low property taxes, this is the most affordable place to retire on their list.  In addition, for a low monthly fee of under $25 a month, homeowners can use seven golf courses, as well at the town's swimming pools, tennis courts, and fitness facilities.  There are lakes, streams, forests and walking trails.  One aspect of this town that is particularly appealing is the fact that 52% of the residents are over age 50.  In addition, there is a strong job market for people who want to continue to work.

Runner ups:  Sioux Falls, S.D. and Morgantown, W. VA.

You can read more about the selection of the above locations in these articles:

Best Place for a Second Career

Iowa City, Iowa - For people over 60 who want to remain engaged in the workforce, this town has an unemployment rate of only 3.1%.  The largest employer is the University of Iowa, which attracts people who have retired from other universities, as well as those who have worked in the corporate world.  Approximately 23% of the population is over the age of 50.  Median home prices are about $191,000.

Runners up:  Bozeman, Montana and Casper, Wyoming

You can read more about the selection of Iowa City and Bozeman below:

Best Place for a Well-Rounded Retirement 

Northfield, Minnesota - If you are looking for moderate home prices, good health care, job opportunities and a small town feel, this community may be your best choice.  About 29% of the population is over the age of 50.  It is located only 55 miles from the world-acclaimed Mayo Clinic.  The median home price is $200,000.  The town has two colleges, which gives retirees the opportunity for continuing education classes.  It is also possible to enjoy live theater, orchestra performances, choral groups, and more. 

Runners Up:  Bellingham, Washington and Manchester, New Hampshire

You can learn more about Northfield below: 

As mentioned earlier, these communities will not be at the top of the list for people who are looking for a warm, sunny place to retire.  However, for those who are looking for other amenities during their retirement years, such as affordable housing, low crime, low traffic, and interesting activities, the above list above may give them some great places to start their search for the perfect retirement community that meets their needs.

For links to dozens of additional articles about where to retire in the United States and overseas, use the tabs at the top of this article.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Leesburg Florida Affordable Retirement Communities

Florida has been a haven for retirees for the past 50 years or longer.  It has a warm climate, low cost-of-living, affordable homes, and no state income or inheritance tax.  However, many people from northern states are unsure where they should start their Florida home search.  In the November/December 2014 issue of "Where to Retire" magazine, they recommended the small city of Leesburg, Florida.

Advantages of Retiring in Florida

There are many reasons why people from the Northeast and Midwest have long considered Florida the perfect place to retire.  My own parents left their home state of Missouri and retired to Florida in the 1980s and continued to live there for the next 25 years.  In addition in a mild climate, here are some of the advantages:

Below average cost of living compared with other parts of the U.S.
No sales tax on groceries, prescriptions and over-the-counter medicine
No state income tax
No estate tax
No inheritance tax
Typical vehicle registration costs only about $28 to $46 a year

Advantages of Retiring in Leesburg

In addition to the reasons you might want to retire to Florida, why would you specifically choose Leesburg?  What are some the features that make this community so appealing?  Many people are attracted to the fact that it is a small, charming community with low traffic and a relaxed, laid-back lifestyle.  In addition, here are some the features that have drawn retirees to the area:

Excellent healthcare at Leesburg Regional Medical Center
Medical specialists an hour away at Orlando Regional Medical Center
Miles of hiking trails in the nearby gardens, parks and state forests
Over 130 miles of waterways for canoeing and kayaking
Over 150 miles of equestrian trails
Only about 45 miles from Disney World and other Orlando attractions
In Lake County, Florida with more than 1,000 freshwater lakes and rivers
Charming town founded in 1857 with very little traffic
Variety of restaurants, boutiques, outlets, antique shops and thrift stores
February Mardi Gras parade and year-around special events
A summer arts festival and a performing arts series
Only 15 miles from The Villages with its full schedule of public concerts, socials and special events

Active Adult Communities near Leesburg

As the administrator of this blog, I frequently am sent information about charming retirement towns, but the articles often contain no mention of any particular active adult communities that are designed for the over-55 crowd.  Fortunately, Leesburg has several to choose from with a wide variety of styles, sizes, amenities and prices.  Here is a list of the major communities with their price ranges at the end of 2014:

Arlington Ridge - $145,000 to $215,000
Legacy of Leesburg - $140,000 to $210,000
Heritage Hills - $164,000 to $343,000
Lakes of Mount Dora - $190,000 to $500,000+
Zellwood Station manufactured housing - $40,000 to $170,000
Pennbrooke Fairways - $105,000 to $239,000

Apartments are also available in the town for under $1,000 a month.  Homes can be rented for about $1,600 a month and up.

Learn more about the Leesburg area at:

If you are looking for more retirement ideas, use the tabs at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional articles in this blog's archives.

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