The Key to Aging in Place: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!

Homework. It has been a long time since we last had homework assignments. But when deciding whether or not to age in place, you will be faced with a lot of homework! The key is preparation, and completing your homework early will help you make an informed decision on how and where you want to age.

The first thing you need is a guide in the form of a checklist. This checklist helps you prioritize what you need to do to determine the safety and financial viability of aging in place. Tailor your checklist to your own situation and needs. Here are a few of the items to include as you craft your list:

Checklist for Good Preparation:

  • Financial Condition — Evaluate your financial resources, both current and projected.
  • Budgets — Create a short-term budget and a long-term budget. You may want to talk with family members and financial experts as you examine your finances.
  • Safety Assessment — Get your home assessed for needed modifications and safety devices. A safety assessment can help you to avoid falls and other hazards as you age.
  • Family Support — Have honest conversations with family members about how much support they realistically can provide. This isn’t necessarily about just finances. Knowing how much day-to-day support they can provide will impact other arrangements you might have to make for day-to-day household and personal care as you age.
  • Health Assessment — Realistically look at your own health and how it may change in the future. Come to terms with where you are now and where you might be tomorrow.
  • Community Resources — Explore all of the available home care and community resources in your area. Also look at available nonprofit and government resources you might be able to access.
  • Social Connections — What about the social aspects of life? How will you stay involved in your family, with your friends, at your house of worship, and/or in your community as you age?
  • Travel — How will you get around? Are you still driving? What will happen when you can’t? Determine how you will secure transportation when you need it.
  • Flexibility — Have a Plan B. What happens if future circumstances make aging in place impossible? Develop a plan for what you will do if that happens.

Many of us don’t need a lot of help — yet. But don’t wait for a health crisis to begin to think about modifying your home or figuring out how to get to doctors’ appointments. Planning now will help you avoid making uncomfortable decisions later.

Aging in place makes sense if you can manage your home effectively — whether by yourself or with the help of family, friends, or professionals. It might not make sense if you have a health crisis or progressive condition; or if you live in a remote area and desire a community with which to interact. But doing your homework and preparing ahead of time will help you make the right decision for you.

Finances, Options, and More

Next time, Third Chapter Living will investigate costs — obvious and hidden — of aging in place and other living options. Future blog entries will examine health care services, affordable housing, and various community and regional programs geared to helping older adults live abundantly.

Still not sure where to start? You are not the only one! Join our Facebook Group resource center to get tips and recommendations on navigating this process. Share experiences with others who are looking for Housing Downsizing Tools that allow them to successfully age in place. 

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