At some point, all of us are going to have to face the reality of growing older. Whether you are there now or if you have awhile until you reach that stage, one of the greatest fears in growing older is knowing what to do about housing. People love their independence and the ability to care for oneself, but as we age, we lose some of that ability. When people look at housing for their future, they consider options that include either being able to stay at one’s own home or move to a new home. A new home can be a nursing home, an assisted living facility, or an independent living retirement home. Instead of choosing one of those options, many people want to be able to stay in their own home for as long as possible, however staying in one’s own home is not always the best option. In order to stay at your own home, there are several areas to be considered.
Here are 5 areas that need to be considered when deciding if staying at your home while you age is the best option for you:
- The design and maintenance of your home. The first thing you need to take into account when deciding whether or not to stay in your house is if your home is going to be conducive for you as you age.
- Design. You will need to consider how your house is structured. How many floors does your home have? Where are the bedrooms located? How is the lighting? Are the floors slip proof? As you age, your body is going to lose some of its strength and balance. Your eyes will not see as clearly. Going up and down stairs will be harder. And in the case of a fall, your bones are going to be more brittle. You will need to consider how your home is currently designed and structured and whether it is possible to make the changes necessary.
- Maintenance. You need to consider the current amount of energy you spend maintaining your home. Does your home seem to continually have problems that need to be fixed: a leaking roof, damaged pipes, or cracked walls? If yes, then it is probably time to move away from that home. Part of maintaining a home includes taking care of the lawn. Though your garden may be a cherished aspect of your home right now, as you age, is it going to be much more difficult to keep up with.
- Amenities: the closer you live to the amenities that are essential for your well-being (i.e. grocery stores, convenient stores, hospitals, etc.), the longer you are going to be able to stay in your home.
- Your support system: your home needs to be located close to the people who are supporting you. The further away you live from your friends, family members, or nursing staff, the harder it is going to be for those individuals to support you when you most need it.
- Public transportation: if you live in the countryside, where you are dependent on your own transportation to take you places, living at home is going to be challenging. It is one thing not to live near any amenities but have public transportation that can take you to those places. But if you do not have amenities nearby or public transportation to take you there, life is going to become really complicated. A person’s driving is going to deteriorate as he or she ages. If there is conveniently located and safe public transportation near your home, there is a greater possibility that you will be able to stay at your home longer.
- The community: where are you currently finding your community? If your friends and family are currently located far away from you or if the hobbies you enjoy are not found near your home, then a move could be good for you. The older you become, the less mobile you will be in getting to those activities you love. This means that there will be an increase in feeling isolated and alone. A person needs to have community as they continue to age.
- The medical and personal help available. Most people are going to need some type of assistance as they age. If you want to stay in your home for as long as possible, you will need to be able to find someone who is going to be able to care for you at your home. There are people available for hire depending on what needs you will have. Ask your friends, family members, or trusted health care providers for recommendations. Having a person care for you that you trust is going to make the adjustment much easier. Like hiring most professionals, it is important to run background checks, have references, and pay attention to character traits in interviews.
Living at home can help a person retain normalcy through a difficult time, but staying at home is not for everyone. Talking to your closest family and friends about whether or not you should stay at home while you age is going to be one of your best resources for whether or not it is right for you. Start this conversation early. It will open your communication and put everyone on the same page. Family and friends are going to be able to help you know your needs. They are going to know the extent of support they are going to be able to provide. Having a realistic conversation with them will help make sure the expectations are clear when it comes to you living on your own.