By Ron Smith
In February, InMaricopa provided an introduction to the topic of aging-in-place. We will continue the topic to help provide insight into many of the facets of aging-in-place. Whether you’re just approaching retirement, already in retirement or are trying to help a relative who is currently facing aging issues, there should be many topics of interest to you.
Planning is not the typical strength of most people approaching retirement. Per a 2018 study conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Northwestern Mutual, one-third of Baby Boomers have less than $25,000 in retirement savings. In addition, many approaching retirement have their eyes focused on an active-adult lifestyle. The notion of aging and all the things that potentially accompany it are often not high on the new retiree’s planning sheet.
Aging-in-place considerations should be factored into retirement decisions as early as possible. We often don’t think about access problems caused by entry steps, staircases, narrow doors and hallways until that first knee or hip operation.
Having to move to another house because your initial “forever” home can’t accommodate your needs can be both costly and disruptive.
What you want is an “adaptable” home, i.e. one that can change to meet changing needs caused by growing old. The more adaptable the home is, the less costly it will be to make those necessary accommodations in the future. Better yet, it might help avoid a costly move due to the high cost of a retrofit needed to remain in your own home.
Keep in mind, accessibility is not the only consideration because other issues, like the need for skilled nursing care or dementia safety, may demand another solution.
As part of your planning, considerations for the availability of other senior-support services in the area are helpful to maintain support networks, social connections and in-home medical assistance when needed.
It is probably unwise to assume aging won’t happen. Planning for aging-in-place is a personally responsible way of coping with unexpected changes that can be life-altering events and potentially lead to institutionalized long-term care.
Aging-in-place planning can help a person live in their own home longer. There are many excellent resources available through AARP and the National Institute on Aging to aid in your planning.
Ron Smith is an aging-in-place advocate. He is also a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee and a member of the Maricopa Senior Coalition.
This column appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.