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Create a plan for aging in place

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Preparations today can set you up for future success.

When you think about where you want to live as you grow older, what comes to mind? If you’re like most adults, you probably imagine staying in your own home. In fact, 3 out of 4 adults ages 50 and older report they want to stay in their homes and communities as they age, according to a recent AARP survey. And for good reason. “Aging in place,” or safely growing older in your own home rather than in an assisted living facility has many benefits that contribute to the overall quality of life. To name a few, aging at home:

  • Is often more cost-effective than an assisted living facility
  • Allows you to keep social connections
  • Provides the comfort of familiar places and service providers
  • Enables you to live in a place filled with a lifetime of memories 

Research also shows that those who continue to live independently have less physical and mental decline when compared to adults living in an assisted living facility. 

In order to successfully age in place, the National Aging in Place Council strongly recommends some planning. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” While no plan is set in stone—financial and health circumstances can change—making preparations now can set you up for success. Later, be sure to reassess your plan as your needs change. 

Six steps to creating a plan

As you develop your plan, consider these key areas:            

  1. Analyze your finances. What are your monthly home costs, and can you continue to afford them after retirement? You might decide that you need to downsize. How much will it cost for any home renovations or modifications in order to comfortably and safely move around your home? (See below.) When considering expenses, account for medical and health insurance costs. Can you afford to hire a professional in-home caregiver if need be? Consider involving family or a trusted advisor to help you evaluate your financial needs. 
  2. Assess your home. How do you want your home to be set up as you age? Do you need to make any modifications? Some common modifications older adults make to their homes include rearranging the home so the master bedroom is on the main level, adding grab bars to the bathroom, and installing non-slip flooring to prevent falls. 
  3. Evaluate your health care needs. Your health care needs will change as you age. Talk with your doctor about any chronic health conditions you have and discuss what you can do to ensure you are able to age in place. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise is an investment in your future. 
  4. Research your transportation options. Even if you are able to drive now, look into transportation options in case you are not able to drive in the future. Does your community offer public transportation, are taxis available, or do you have access to ride services like Lyft? Do you have family or friends who can drive you when needed? 
  5. Make a plan for care. There may come a time when you need part-time caregiver assistance. Do you have family who can help with this? Would you prefer hiring a professional caregiver? Now is the time to have these conversations with your family. Let them know your preferences for the future and discuss their ability to help with your care. 
  6. Embrace technology. When it comes to living independently, technology is your friend. Smartphones, smart home assistants, telemedicine, wearable monitors, and other technological innovations can make independent living easier, safer and more comfortable. Take the time to become familiar with what’s available. 

For more information

The National Aging in Place Council has created a template and short questionnaire to help you create your own plan for aging in place.

Aging in Place: Growing Older at Home, National Institute on Aging.