What Are the Best Options for Your Old Age Housing Needs?
People wait most of their lives to reach the time when they are able to stop working and start really living. However, despite all of their dreams and plans, many forget that where they end up living as they age can be vitally important to their health and well being.
They may think that this decision is one that can be put off until later, but the truth is that the time to plan for the type of housing and location that will work best for you is well before you retire. The reason for this is that if you wait, you can find yourself in a situation from which you may not be able to extricate yourself due to health, relationships or finances.
Here are some things that people who are starting to age should seriously consider as they plan for their golden years along with some important information about the pros and cons of each.
The Caveats of Changing Locations
Many people opt for leaving their old lives behind because they feel they are ready for a change. They may be tired of dealing with bad weather, the burdens of babysitting or helping sick friends and may also want some adventure in their lives. If they do their research and make the move as soon as possible, a change like this may work out just fine. However, these folks will find that after a certain point they will likely not be able to visit their children or friends because health or lack of money will keep them from doing so.
Thus, as they age, they may become increasingly lonely and isolated unless they are able to create new and meaningful relationships. Unfortunately, in old age, this rarely happens. This is because it is difficult to make plans with people who are sick, have memory problems or are strapped for money. It is common for older folks to create a friendship and then have the other person pass away! So, while some adapt well to a geographical change, others find that this move does not turn out as expected.
In some instances, people move in groups, meaning they take their friends and relatives with them to the new location. This helps a great deal, but only works if everybody in the group is amenable to the change. Even then, adapting is difficult. Finding out where to get your car fixed, where to shop and who the best doctors are takes time and can be extremely frustrating. After many years, some who are in failing health or just lonely eventually return home because that’s what they know.
Staying in Your Home
Many individuals think that remaining in their home is their best choice, and for some it is because it is the easiest and most comfortable. They may have lived in their home for years and own it outright. They know who their neighbors are, where to get their hair cut and who the best doctors are located.
Choosing this option requires almost zero effort, but those who want to take advantage of it need to consider several issues.
These include but are not limited to
- health issues,
- potential loss of spouse,
- weather problems and
- relationship issues.
Many of them also apply to other choices as well. These will be discussed later in this article.
People are now living longer than ever. Therefore, they need to think about the fact that over time income for senior citizens generally remains about the same, but the cost of living continues to rise.
Since owning and maintaining a home is expensive, people who like this option should have an expert help them forecast their costs of living so that they can see whether they will be able to afford to continue doing so or not.
The cost of living generally rises 3% annually. Thus, if it is currently costing you $36,000 per year to live and you live for 20 years beyond retirement, it will cost you $63,126 to live in the same manner you have always lived. The chart shown below shows you how these figures are computed.
This does not take into account any major expenses you may run into along the way. Therefore, good financial planning is vital to your future because the last thing you will want to do is outlive your money!
Another thing to consider is whether you will be healthy enough to take care of your home as you age. Right now you may be physically able to make repairs, take care of your garden and clean your house, but one bad fall can end all of that overnight.
You should never assume that you’ll be able to do all of the things in the future that you can to do now. If you can’t, you’ll have to start depending on others to do these things for you or employing people to do so, which can be very expensive.
Loss of Spouse
Another major problem the elderly face is losing a spouse or having a spouse become incapacitated. If you are used to having your spouse cook your meals, shop for food, drive you places, make repairs or take care of your bills, losing him or her can prove disastrous. It can also cause depression and feeling of isolation for the remaining spouse and can leave them feeling helpless and frightened.
This issue also can cause huge financial problems because you likely will lose Social Security and pension benefits that will make the ever-rising cost of living even more difficult for you to navigate.
Another consideration to keep in mind is weather. When you are young, weather may be a bother, but you can deal with it. However, doing this is not as easy as you age.
Driving becomes more difficult in areas where there is a great deal of snow and rain and walking can become dangerous. Bad weather also can damage property, which means an owner can wind up spending a great deal for repairs.
So, if your home is located in an area that is known to have bad weather, you will need to consider whether staying in the home will be worth the risks of doing so.
Support Systems Matter
Individuals who have established families and good relationships with others need to consider the value the may bring for their later years. Assistance and companionship of people you have known for years can be extremely important as you age.
However, as time passes, people pass away, become incapacitated, move away or simply end relationships, which means that the support system you now have may not be there for you in the future. If it is, you are fortunate. If not, your older years can become sterile and lonely. So while this issue matters, it's important to understand that it is likely to change.
Reality Is Tough
Most people don’t think about these things. They assume they will never happen, so they don’t plan for them. This can be a serious mistake because the results of ignoring the future can be disastrous.
I have met countless older individuals over the years who spend their days in isolation, have no one to turn to for help and whose bad financial decisions have left them without many of the necessities of daily living.
I know a man right now who didn't plan well. His wife passed away a while back, and when she died, her pension and Social Security check died as well. He had counted on that money, but now it is gone. Thus, he can no longer afford the home he lives in or even the car he drives. His story is not unique, but it supports the point I'm making here.
It's nice to think you can afford to stay in your own home as you age, but doing so may not be the best thing for you to do. Fortunately, there are other options that can help people avoid the problems mentioned here.
Those who feel that staying in their own homes will be too difficult or expensive but who want to stay in the same geographical area have other options.
For example, they can
- rent an apartment,
- purchase a small condo,
- move to an assisted living facility,
- buy or rent a park model or
- even buy an RV.
They can do these things also if they decide to move to a different geographical area.
If handled properly, any of these choices can reduce costs and workloads, create built-in social opportunities and cut way back on the need to depend on others for assistance.
However, they also can mean making some sacrifices such as losing a long-standing support system, having to create new relationships or learning to navigate new surroundings. That's how life is. You always have to give something in order to get something!
What Is the Answer?
As you can see, there is no one answer that will suit the needs and desires of every person in terms of where they should plan to live in their golden years.
However, there are some things you should do that apply to everybody. These are to
- plan early and plan well for how and where you want to live in your older years,
- make sure you will have enough money to be able to afford the lifestyle you choose,
- understand the importance of your support system if you are lucky enough to have one,
- create as many good relationships as you can no matter where you decide to live,
- employ a pro to help you forecast your financial future and
- understand that you will not always be as healthy as you are right now.
These are not easy tasks, and all of them require time, effort and research. The trick is to look at all sides of each issue so that you are certain about your choices.
This way, whether you choose to remain in your home, move to a different type of housing or move to parts unknown, you’ll end up living in the best place for you during your older years.
Has this article made you reconsider your living options for your golden years?
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Sondra Rochelle