About nine out of 10 people over age 50 say they would prefer to remain living at home throughout their retirement, and some geriatric experts observe that doing so can help seniors stay mentally and physically fit.1
And yet, planning to “age in place” is more complex than it may first appear. You need to carefully consider factors such as how to pay for age-related renovations for things like getting in and out of the bathtub or navigating hallways and doorways if you need a wheelchair.2
You’ll also need to consider the cost of caregivers, which can be much more expensive than living in a senior community where this cost is shared. While retirement planning can be uplifting and exciting, planning for old age is not. However, it’s even more important that you do have a plan for some level of incapacitation, such as a sudden stroke, memory decline or even the loss of a spouse. We all dream of taking care of each other when we get older, but that’s not always practical. By age 65, it’s a good idea to consider how (and if) aging in place will work for you if you eventually need extra care.3 If you’d like to discuss ways to position your current assets to help pay for a long-term care plan should it become necessary, please contact us.
Recognize that while you may start as an active retiree, at some point, you will find yourself slowing down. It’s important to think ahead and have a plan for activities that will help keep your mind and body responsive once you can no longer swing a golf club or play tennis. In fact, starting these more sedentary hobbies while you’re active will make them more appealing to you later.
One of the perks of staying in place is having a local support network of friends and family. As you get older, you’ll have people available to help out when needed and provide social and emotional support, especially if you’re aging alone. Your home offers a wealth of routine and familiarity, which is particularly important when memory begins to fail. And lastly, it’s a good idea to maintain continuity with your same medical providers as you get older. On the other hand, if you don’t have family members that live near you, this may be a good reason to consider moving closer to them at some point during retirement. The sooner you make such an adjustment, the sooner you can begin establishing relationships with new friends and health care professionals. It is much more difficult to make this transition past a certain age.4
It’s also a lot more difficult to maintain a large home once you get older. Chores like replacing air filters and removing carpet stains are a lot easier with healthy knees and joints. It’s important to have a handyman or someone else you trust to conduct everyday chores before they get out of hand. Eventually, you may need someone to drive you to doctor’s appointments or to the grocery store — or do the shopping for you. These common tasks are easier if you have available children or friends to help out; otherwise, you need to be able to pay for home aid assistance. Caregiving assistance is not only expensive, but it’s also hard to find these days in light of the pandemic and the labor shortage.5
If you do end up with mobility problems, living at home can be both difficult and isolating. If you instead consider moving into a community for seniors, many of your basic needs, such as maintenance and food preparation, will be provided. But perhaps more importantly, there will be people around for you to engage with. This may not seem like a perk when you’re 70, but it could be critical when you’re 90.6