Barring Benjamin Button, everyone grows older. And with age comes a new set of challenges (economic, medical, and other hurdles) that you may not have necessarily dealt with in your younger years. To mitigate these issues, many choose to leave their houses and take up residence in assisted living facilities.
While assisted living has its benefits, growing older doesn’t mean you have to abandon your current home. Aging in place, as it sounds, is the practice of staying in your home as you enter your golden years. It’s the preferred choice of older Americans nationwide, with around 77% of people over 50 hoping to stay in their homes during retirement.
To help you make an informed decision about aging in place, this guide discusses the benefits it presents and how aging adults can prepare themselves for a future in their current home that they’ve always loved.
What is Aging in Place?
Aging in place isn’t a complicated concept—it’s simply the act of maintaining the status quo for your life and location as you get on in years. Whether you own, rent, or share your home with a family member, it’s about staying in your sacred space as long as possible.
Though it may sound simple, there are some unique challenges that arise from remaining in your home during your twilight years. Still, many agree that the pros outweigh the cons, and aging in place is a popular choice for older adults as they plan to retire.
The Philosophy Behind Aging in Place
Aging in place doesn’t necessarily require you to change your daily living routine. In fact, a huge pull for those who choose to age in place is the ability to keep things as they are.
Regardless, circumstances can develop as you get older. Your needs may shift and expand, especially regarding health and sociality. Some key factors seniors and older adults report rising in importance as they age in place include:
- Outdoor spaces
- High-quality healthcare
- Social support in an age-friendly community
To maximize happiness and security as you grow older, it’s important to see that these needs can be cared for in the place you choose to stay.
The Benefits of Aging in Place
One major upside of aging in place is preserving independence by not having to count on others as you get older. Not only does staying in your home mean self-reliance, but it also presents a plethora of other advantages versus moving to another location.
Health and Emotional Benefits
As previously mentioned, three-quarters of older Americans aged 50 and up want to remain in their homes as they age. As we grow older, however, this impetus to remain in the place we’ve always loved gets even stronger.
An overwhelming 77% of people aged 50 and over claim they want to remain in their homes and communities for as long as possible. There’s a wealth of reasons seniors and older adults feel this way, but some key justifications can include:
- A rapport with healthcare providers in the area who understand and know how to care for their concerns
- Proximity to the places and people they love the most
- The secure, familiar feeling of being in a location they’re comfortable with
Perhaps the most popular alternative to aging in place, moving into an assisted living facility can be a costly choice to make. The average monthly rate charged to senior residents in assisted living facilities was $4,500 in 2021.
Meanwhile, many who choose to age in place either own or rent the home they live in. While prices vary greatly by location, the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom place is hovering around $1,320 nationwide in 2023. Property taxes, likewise, are generally significantly lower than the cost of assisted living—the average annual bill for a single-family home in the U.S. is $3,803, or about $317 per month.
Social and Community Benefits
People form strong connections to the communities in which they mature and raise their families through a phenomenon known as place attachment. The social bonds and routines one fosters with other community members are important factors that contribute to the overall level of happiness they feel in a certain location.
The Challenges of Aging in Place
From the economic strain of stopping work to pain and reduced mobility, there will likely be some new challenges to face as you age. Identifying and understanding these problems can help you mitigate and minimize their effects.
Consider these common issues people encounter when they choose to age in place.
Home Modification and Maintenance
As we age, our bodies begin to develop new pains and limitations that we don’t feel in our younger years. Around 35% of people over 70 report significantly reduced mobility, while the majority have such issues by the age of 85.
In order to prepare for the potential pain and reduced range of motion aging can bring, there are several aging in place home modifications you can make such as:
- Stair lifts
- Wheelchair ramps
- Accessible tubs with doors and handrails
- Safety bars in showers, near toilets, and around other potentially slippery areas
- Automatic doors
- Cameras that trusted individuals can access
- Emergency buttons hardwired to call an ambulance or other healthcare services
- Other types of machines and gadgets that can improve your quality of life as you get older
These aids are expensive and not everyone can afford to modify and maintain a fully-equipped house. Regardless, such purchases are an investment in your health, home, and happiness.
Access to Healthcare and Services
Over one-third of Americans aged 65 and over visit at least five doctors per year. Furthermore, many patients feel anxiety during healthcare procedures and develop secure attachments to the doctors they’re most familiar with. Aging in place allows people to keep seeing the doctors that they’ve come to know over the years.
As you get older, however, it’s possible to develop conditions that your primary care providers can’t deal with alone. Likewise, unless you live in a populous urban area with a wide variety of healthcare services, you may have to travel long distances to find specialists who can provide the care you need.
Financial Planning and Security
Sometimes, it’s not health or personal reasons that prevent people from aging in place, but financial ones. Aside from the necessary modifications to adapt your home to changing physical capabilities, there are regular concerns such as property taxes, maintenance, and utilities that persist into homeowners’ golden years.
On top of this, healthcare costs begin to skyrocket as you get older. Some suggestions claim retired couples should have almost $300,000 set aside to cover medical expenses by the time they’re 65.
Best Practices for Aging in Place
While everyone experiences the process of growing older differently, there are some general steps you can take to prepare yourself and your property for aging in place. When preparing your age-in-place plan, take into account these tips.
Making Your Home Safe and Comfortable
Read your body’s signals and understand its limitations as you start to get older. Then, install whatever type of equipment you need in your home to make sure you’re always safe and comfortable.
A stair lift, for instance, may seem like a pricey investment, but it pays dividends when you save on healthcare costs and forego chronic pain by preventing a fall.
Accessing Community Resources and Services
Many municipalities have programs and special offers set aside exclusively for their older citizens. To get the most out of your community’s resources and utilize the services they provide, consider how your age may entitle you to free:
- Public transportation
- Financial services
- Medical consultation, treatment, and prescription drugs
The availability of such programs varies by state and locality, so check with the local government where you plan to age in place to see what resources are available to their older citizens.
Financial Planning for Aging in Place
Many local governments and financial institutions offer free consultations to help people plan for retirement. Hitting certain benchmarks before retirement, such as fully paying off your home or accruing a specific amount of savings, can be massive aids once a pension is your primary source of income.
Creating a Supportive Network
An often overlooked, but critically important part of aging is doing it around people that you love and will care for you when you need it. When aging in place, a supportive network of loved ones can mean:
- Friends and family to accompany you to doctor’s appointments, grocery runs, and other daily errands
- A reliable crew to socialize and engage in leisure activities with
- Fitness buddies to help you stay in shape and remain active as you age
Residential Sale-Leasebacks: A Financial Solution for Aging in Place
A residential sale-leaseback, also known as a rent-back agreement, is a useful financial tool for homeowners who want to age in place, but face monetary hurdles to doing so. Whether it’s an unpaid mortgage, medical bills, or other expenses, they can provide a quick lump sum so older adults can enter retirement without debt and take care of themselves as they age.
There are many sale-leaseback benefits to consider. A residential sale-leaseback converts the equity in your home into capital when you sell it and allows you to age in place by remaining in it as a renter afterward. If you want to free up cash to enjoy as you please in your golden years, they may be the right solution for you.
Aging in place is the process of staying in your home as you grow older, rather than moving to an assisted living facility or other location. It presents many benefits, such as allowing you to remain in the community you’ve always loved. There are some concerns for individuals who plan to age in place, however—especially regarding financing your home and healthcare during retirement.
Residential sale-leasebacks can be a useful financial tool to help homeowners free up capital as they grow older. If you’re planning to age in place, consider how they can help you fund the lifestyle you want while remaining in the home you love.
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