The good news; we are living longer, healthier life styles. The bad new; where will we live and how in the heck are we going to pay for it!
A recent survey supports what most of us would consider just basic a common sense. Older Americans want to remain in their homes and not be sent to “the home”. Unless you simply cannot care for yourself and being alone presents a danger to you or your neighbors, then moving needs to be given some serious consideration. However, the majority of us shutter at the thought of being uprooted and moved to a strange place with strange people. I’ve always said “change is good”, but there is a limit to how much and how fast.
You or a loved one will be facing this decision at some point, so here a few tips that can help you or a loved one stay put while getting the most out of the golden years.
Look closely at finances. It’s critical to understand your financial position and have a reasonable budget. Find a trusted friend or family member that can help you with this process. Look closely at your current living situation and funds to determine how long you money will last under your current living situation verses a planned move to a more reasonable location. Make sure you consider all the costs associated with aging in place, including:
- Monthly rent/mortgage, maintenance, insurance and general upkeep.
- Reliable transportation to medical appointments, shopping and other errands.
- You will need help, like an in-home caregiver or assistant.
Determine what “elder” modifications are necessary. While staying in your home is preferable for many, there will be required changes to ensure it’s also safe and comfortable.
- Make sure there is at least one step-free entrance to your home.
- Clear pathways in the house and firmly secure all carpets to the floor to prevent tripping.
- If you have stairs, avoid them at all cost. Consider relocating to one level or install an elevator or chairlift.
- Install grab bars in the bathtub, shower, or near the toilet.
Be prepared for emergencies. It’s just a matter of time before something happens and it will. We are all human and stuff just seems to happen the older we get.
- Consider a personal emergency response system. Transmitters can be worn as a bracelet or around your neck and require the simple push of a button to send a signal to a call center.
- Have your address number visible from the street so emergency responders can easily identify your home.
- Keep a list of all emergency contacts on your refrigerator or by a phone.
Consider a reverse mortgage. Though not for everyone, a reverse mortgage loan can provide monthly cash payments based on your home’s equity.
- Shop around. Be sure to check with multiple lenders. You can use sites like www.reversemortage.org, sponsored by the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, to find lenders in your area.
- Make sure to read all loan documents carefully. There are a number of actions that could cause the loan to become due.
- Find out how much commission the “agent” is being paid.
Make security a priority. Older Americans are often targets for scams and other criminal behavior. Be cautious about who you allow in your home and disclose sensitive information to.
- Install up to date and easy to use locks. Make sure your front door has a peep hole or a security monitor so you can see who is outside.
- Create a group call list of friends and family that schedule daily “check-in” phone calls.
- If a salesperson knocks on your door – don’t answer it. If one calls you on the phone, just hang up.
Also, be sure to look into community resources. If mobility is limited, look in to services offered in your area. Many communities have established non-profit programs that offer transportation and food delivery to assist older Americans at little to no cost. Reevaluate you situation every year to make sure all needs are being met. As you age, your needs inevitably change. Sit down with your trusted family or friend and make sure your current living situation is still the right one. Talking about these issues can be hard to do, but it is critical. You have to plan for the future and growing older is a reality. Trust me, the sooner you can have a plan in place, the better off you and your loved ones will be.