Planning for Senior Housing Part I: Where To Get Started?
I meet a lot of seniors who aren’t quite ready for senior housing. They are generally younger (60-70, although sometimes into their 80’s) and don’t have kids nearby. Often times, they don’t want to rely on others to handle their care as they age, and they want to stay independent as long as possible. For them, good planning is their best bet for living their golden years as they would like.
Over the next two posts, I’ll share some tips for starting to plan for senior housing, based on some common themes that I hear from clients. In today’s post, we’ll talk about living at home:
Goal A: I want to Live at Home as Long as Possible.
Not everybody wants to live in a retirement community, and there’s no problem with that plan. However, as people age, there are certain aspects of their homes that make it more and more difficult to live by themselves. If you want to stay in your home as long as possible, then there are some things that you can do now to improve those odds:
– Remove clutter. It’s easy to accumulate a lot of knick knacks over the years, but resist the urge to hang onto things that could impede your movement through your home. Get rid of extra end tables or area rugs that might cause tripping, and make sure that you don’t stack items on the floor in walkways or where you could trip.
– Make repairs. Frayed carpet may not seem like a big deal, but, as you get older, a small fall can cause big problems. If there are things in your home that don’t function properly (like cabinet doors that don’t close, loose boards on stairs, or broken concrete on a porch), then it’s your best bet is to fix them as soon as possible.
– Remodel for accessibility. If you sleep in a second story bedroom, consider switching to a downstairs location. If you have outdoor stairs, consider installing a ramp with a handrail. Install no-slip stickers and grab bars in your shower. Consider widening the doorway of at least one bathroom so that it can accommodate a wheelchair if necessary. These are relatively minor fixes that can be done long before you have problems, and they’ll help keep you at home much longer.
– Meet with a financial planner. Staying at home isn’t always your cheapest option, especially if you need higher levels of care for long periods of time. For instance, I heard of one woman who spent over half a million dollars on nurses in the last few years of her life. If you really want to live in your home, you’ll want to craft a good financial plan for doing so. For instance, how much care can you afford, and how will you decide when it’s time to move into a nursing home or assisted living? These are questions that your financial planner can help you answer via a relatively simple budget projection.
In Part II, we’ll talk about how you can help create an easy transition into retirement living and also what to do if you want to play it by ear.
Virginia Traweek owns SeniorHousingMove.com, a website dedicated to helping seniors, their families and their advisors make the best decision regarding CCRCs. She has written several books for seniors, including: Continuing Care Retirement Communities: An Insider Tells All, The Financial & Estate Planner’s Guide to Retirement Communities, and UnSCAMable: How Seniors can Protect Themselves on the Internet.