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.

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  1. This is a very interesting article after so many about relocating to retire. I just visited a new senior community recently and was astonished by the massive showers in the masters baths. They are extra large to accommodate people with wheel chairs or walkers!

  2. Great information for those who are aging. I think the only problem we will ever have is keeping up our "yard". About 20 acres of mowing needs to be done. Hopefully our kids and grandkids will be willing to help with that. Great article!


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