Bob Carlson wrote a great article last summer for Forbes magazine that addressed the Secrets to Successfully Aging in Place. To summarize…

Did you know that 90% of Americans 65 years and older want to stay in their homes for as long as possible? If you are part of this 90%, Mr. Carlson lays out a plan you can implement immediately that will enable you to live in your home for as long as you can. His plan includes:

Maintaining Social Connections – Anyone in a successful retirement knows how important staying both physically and socially active are. You need this wherever you are but even more so if you decide to stay at home. Senior communities, assisted living residences, and even senior long-term care facilities provide daily activities as a core of their benefits.

Creating a Strategy to Access Needed Services – As you transition from one level of care to another, you’ll need to address a range of service needs. This includes transportation, lawn services, grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, paying bills, and all basic needs for every day living. It also includes planning for various levels of needed healthcare like a visiting nurse or home health aide. Find out what is available in your area and keep track of which one you prefer. Companies can change over time which is why it’s important to remain aware of satisfaction levels among customers. This can easily be found among several sources online or my direct calls.

Preparing Your Home – You need to prepare for all stages as you age, and preparation of your home is vital if your goal is to stay. Make renovations now or plan for future renovations to accommodate issues in aging like more difficult movement. Remove or limit possible areas of risk or danger. Think about conveniences in reaching items and gaining physical access to certain rooms. Mr. Carlson smartly suggests levers over knobs.

Weighing the Finances – This is your reality check that compares the financial cons and pros of staying where you are. In some cases, staying in your home may not be less expensive. However, if you are determined to stay, you must make further plans.  Remember that you are not alone.  If your finances are complex, you should already have a financial advisor.  If not, it is a good time to seek an advisor.  You need to convey your plans to age at home with the advisor.  Based on your financial accounts, he/she will, then, create a strategy to determine the feasibility of your plans and, if needed or possible, change your existing plans to accommodate your future plans.

Mr. Carlson does caution that time is of the essence. You need to plan and prepare now. Also, be flexible because situations change and affect needs. So, be open to reviewing and updating your plan. Please note that although planning needs to happen as soon as possible, it does not mean that you need to renovate your home now or make immediate change that can drastically change the aesthetics of your home. It does mean that you need to plan and accommodate for these needed renovations in the future, before you are in a crisis situation and need it immediately.

Lastly, please be realistic. You cannot fight staying at home if you really need more around-the-clock care as you age. Consider the frustrations you would feel if you had an aging parent that needed more care but insisted in staying at home—against their safety and well-being. Yes, ideally, it would be great to stay at home and live in peace surrounded by your own things and personal memories until the end, dying peacefully and happily in your sleep. That is the ultimate goal but make it easier on yourself and others by also being prepared.

For more in-depth information on what Bob Carlson wrote, please see this direct link:

Rosalynn Harvey Heth, MPA, CEPS is president and COO of Preserve Wealth Management, a boutique registered investment advisory firm that specializes in getting families to and through retirement. PWM’s wealth management services go beyond investments to include many non-financial services including an Aging Plan. To learn more, click here.

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