How do you want to live as you grow older?

Maybe you appreciate privacy and want to stay where you are.. in the home that’s filled with your love, time, and energy. 

AARP’s 2018 Home and Community Preferences study agrees. The survey found 76% of Americans age 50 and older say they prefer to remain in their current residence and 77% would like to live in their community as long as possible. However,  just 59% foresee they will be able to stay in their community -- either in their home (46%) or a different home still within their community (13%).

Home Alternatives 

The same AARP survey found adults 50 and older more willing to think about other ways of living, especially when they get older. 

  • Home sharing (32%), 
  • Building an accessory dwelling unit (31%) 
  • Villages that provide services that enable aging in place (56%)

To remedy the housing problem, individuals seek creative living solutions like tiny house villages, roommates, co-housing, and buying a home together. The top preference by members of the Elder Orphan Facebook Group is living in a tiny house village with like-minded peers and friends. 

As for the participants in the AARP survey, 3 in 5 (58%) say they would in fact consider home sharing if they needed help with everyday activities like household chores or transportation, and half (50%) would also consider it simply for companionship.

The Real Needs of Older Adults

Relating to the The Aging Alone Study (2018 Elder Orphan Facebook Group - over 500 participants) an academic research project aimed to learn about adults aging alone and who identify as elder orphans. Unsettling discoveries were found that support the option for sharing a home.    

  • 78% have no help with bills, financial decisions
  • 55% have no help with medical decisions
  • 70% have not identified a would-be caregiver
  • 35% have no help in a crisis
  • 45% reported being sad
  • 52% reported being lonely
  • 26% have 3 or more chronic conditions
  • 31% take 5 or more medications
  • 43% lack a living will or health care power of attorney
  • 40% reported a medium level of stress
  • 50% have access to reliable public transportation

How are you handling these? Have you thought about them? 

I didn't until my parents passed away. That's when I realized, "Uh-oh, what the heck will I do?" These are the really hard issues. And if I don't think about them now, who knows what will happen. 

Better Manage the Issues

If one lives in a place where they are supported by peers, and in a community that offers outdoor spaces and buildings, well-maintained and convenient hospitals and other health care facilities as well as safe parks, wouldn’t that mitigate the top concerns? It would for me. 

These are the reasons I chose to take up residence in a highrise located in an urban setting. In the two years of living here, I’ve created a robust support system, made very close friendships, feel safe, and have a deep sense of connection. 

I encourage you to think about your top issues and concerns and then devise a plan that lessens worry

How to Know Your Best Living Option

A variety of housing and living arrangements can meet the needs of older persons.  

Understanding what the options are and the needs they fill is the first step in making a wise choice. However, it's just as significant to understand your specific needs and health care requirements as it is to know the available housing options. 

You may prefer to stay where you are, in the home you love but doing so may require modifications and changes to make it safer and more comfortable. 

What to look for -- the key points of aging in place

Functionality: Can you navigate the home safely?  If you’re frail to climb stairs anymore and don’t have a full bathroom on the bottom floor, you will need to change where you live.  Even if you're not frail, at this time, a two story home, down the road, will be hazardous. It's one of the reasons I sold my two-story home and downsized to something more manageable. 

Location: Is the home in a community you love with access to friends and people you enjoy spending time with?

Safety: Will you be able to get help in an emergency?  Many seniors overestimate the ability to stay safe. But if you live alone, you will want to minimize the risk for having a medical event or a fall.  

Services: Are there nearby services you’ll want or need, such as medical care, shopping and entertainment?

Affordability: Can you afford to live in a private home and pay for your other regular expenses?

Check out this tool kit that helps you determine if the home will keep you safe and independent later on: The Basics of Aging in Place - A Complete Guide to Resources and Common Needs ($5.99)

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