By Harry Cline
Senior care is a big decision we all need to make at some point. As an older adult, do you stay at home and modify your property, buy an accessible house, or begin looking at assisted living facilities? If you’re considering these options, here are some things you need to know, presented by The Lane Senior Guide.
Modify Your Property
Your first choice is to take the property you already have and make it more accessible. If you’re particularly attached to your home or moving isn’t desirable, you could add accessible features that may become necessary for your comfort over time. These features include modifications like widening doorways, having a no-step shower with a bench, and putting in non-slip flooring throughout the home. Just as important, perhaps, will be introducing devices and gadgets to your property to make life easier at any stage. In particular, you could install smart lights that automatically turn on at a certain time, as well as motion-sensor lighting to make late-night bathroom runs safe. Similarly, voice-activated smart tech can make everyday activities, from adjusting the thermostat to ordering groceries, much simpler.
Buy an Accessible Home
Your next option is to buy a home that comes with accessible features. This can be tempting if you live in a multi-story home and want something without stairs or don’t want to put your house through invasive modifications. To find the perfect property, look for places that have no-step thresholds, doorways wide enough for easy maneuvering, and light switches that aren’t too high up. If you have a disability, you may even qualify for a grant to help you find an affordable, senior-friendly housing solution that suits your needs precisely.
Know What You Can Afford
Before you start looking for homes, you’ll have to establish how much you can afford. To do so, subtract your monthly debts from your income to determine how big a mortgage payment you might apply for. However, don't use your entire remaining income as a guide since emergencies can happen. To make things easy, you could use an online affordability calculator so you don't have to factor in a property’s total price, the down payment, and other considerations. While you’re at it, brush up on how mortgages have changed over the years, especially if it’s been more than a decade since you last bought a property. For instance, you’ll need anywhere from 5 to 5 percent of the home’s cost as a down payment unless you have government assistance.
No one says you have to continue living alone, either. Baby Boomers are turning toward an idea of communal living to get the support and camaraderie they need. Friends are banding together to share their homes, split chores and maintenance, and share in the delights of life. Of course, you may still value your privacy at the end of the day, so you might prefer a village model. Villages group seniors into a single neighborhood where services, like transportation, social programs, and educational opportunities are provided to keep everyone active and engaged.
Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted living has changed a lot, and it is a wonderful choice for those of us who anticipate requiring extra care. At many assisted living facilities, you’ll get help with daily tasks and personalized medical care, and you won’t have to deal with the hassle of home maintenance. You’ll have enriching social activities scheduled, privacy and independence, and the ability to age in place throughout the years. All in all, if you want your own space but don’t want the strain that comes with owning an individual property, assisted living may be the path for you.
Here’s the most important thing: Don’t rush into making a decision. This is going to impact your future, so be sure you’ve made a choice you are truly comfortable with. After all, our golden years should be spent having fun, not worrying about our futures.
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his 90-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out.