This post is part of an ongoing series on where to live as you age
By Scott Stanley
If you read our previous article, Aging In Place vs. Retirement Communities: Which is The Right Choice for You?, and have decided that aging in place is your best option, then we have some tips to share with you. While aging in place can be viable, it requires careful planning and preparation. With 15 years of experience helping families find care options for their loved ones, I highly recommend that you plan ahead to avoid having to make short-term decisions with limited choices. Here are some important things to keep in mind as you plan to age in place:
- Assess Your Living Environment: First and foremost, it’s important to take a close look at your current living environment. Ask yourself if your home is safe for aging in place. Can you live on one level? Do you have to navigate stairs to get to the front door? Consider working with professionals who specialize in aging-in-place modifications, such as installing grab bars in the bathroom, widening doorways, switching knobs to levers, incorporating voice-activated technology, and more.
- Anticipate Your Needs: Working with a geriatric care manager who can help you anticipate your future needs is important. This includes planning for the inevitable situation when you can’t take care of yourself. A backup plan, such as in-home care or assisted living, is a must.
- Outsource Household Management: As you age, certain household chores become more difficult and potentially unsafe. Consider hiring someone to handle tasks such as cleaning gutters, maintaining your garden, and handling pest control. You may also want to hire someone to help with house cleaning, laundry, cooking, and changing sheets, among other chores. Hiring a cook can ensure that you are eating healthy and complete meals.
- Get Long-Term Care Insurance: Being prepared for the possibility of needing long-term care, as 70% of all people over 65 years old do, is essential. Consider getting hybrid long-term care insurance, which can provide medical and non-medical services coverage. Make sure you know what’s covered and how it works. For more detailed information, see Big Retired Life’s Long-Term Care post.
- Maintain Social Connections: During this phase of life, your social circles will inevitably become smaller. However, staying connected with others as much as possible is beneficial. Join social groups focused on sports, hobbies, or activities that you enjoy and keep you engaged. And if you happen to be religious or politically active, keep giving back, as this will make you feel you are still contributing to the causes you care about. Another pro tip: try to make new friends with people 10-15 years younger than you as this keeps you feeling younger and you have friends who will outlive you.
- Finalize Your Paperwork: Make sure all your paperwork is in order, including your will, power of attorney, and any advanced directives, including a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) and Physician’s Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). Someone you trust ought to be given fiduciary responsibility with access to your finances if you become unable to manage them yourself.
- Declutter Your Home: Go through all your stuff before it becomes an inaccessible task for you. Try breaking up this project into smaller decluttering tasks to make this undertaking less daunting and overwhelming. It can be difficult to let go of the things you have accumulated over your life, yet know that this process can reduce the stress on your loved ones later down the line. Make sure you know who is getting what in your estate as well.
- Stay Physically Fit: Ultimately, staying physically fit will help you maintain a healthy and independent lifestyle further into the future. Consider incorporating regular exercise into your routine, such as going for walks or trying our longevity workout. Taking care of your body also helps your mind stay alert and sharp.
By planning ahead and taking steps to ensure your safety and comfort, you can successfully age in place and avoid relying on your loved ones for care and help for longer.
Scott Stanley is the president of Caring Hands Caregivers, a Non-Medical Home Health Agency, with the goal of providing 24 X 7 companion care for seniors allowing them to live in their homes. For the past 15 years, he found his purpose in serving the senior community, many of whom would otherwise face moving to a nursing home without his services.
Throughout the “The Nuts and Bolts” section of this blog, we will introduce you to the practical needs in retirement.