Staying In My Home
Most seniors told us, “Staying in my home is my biggest concern.” It is seniors’ number one concern. Carmen and I cover all housing issues in detail here. However, there are few basic issues that always rise to the level of an emergency. These are the 911 or emergency questions seniors and their families ask us.
Is Staying In My Own Home Unusual?
Carmen and I discovered that almost every senior wants to stay in their own home as they age. Research studies confirm this fact. What’s most fascinating is that people’s desire to stay in their home as they age increases. Whereas only 40% to 50% of people under 50 say spending the last years in their own home is important, over 90% of seniors have this preference.
Why Do I Fear Moving?
People have lots of reasons for wanting to stay in their own home. One of the biggest is the fear of moving. For seniors, fear fall into the five main categories below.
Here’s the reality: if we live long enough in our own home we’ll have to turn that home into the equivalent of an assisted living facility, and ultimately, into a nursing home. The best way to make this happen is to have lots of money. If you are wealthy enough, you can afford to modify your home and hire necessary caregivers to address your health as you age. If you’re rich, your set: congratulations.
The rest of us need a better strategy and tactics.
Staying In My Home When I’m Healthy
A note on being healthy. As we age, we often move the goalposts on what it means to be healthy. In our sixties, we may define health as being able to do chores around the house and be free from disease. In our seventies, if we’re spending time in hospitals or rehabilitation facilities, we may say we are healthy when we are not in these locations. As soon as we start moving goalposts, we’re acknowledging that staying in our own home is going to become more difficult. For purposes here, being healthy is defined as being able to care for yourself and your home.
Healthy seniors have ample opportunity to remain in their homes. If they encounter money problems, they can go back to work. If their home needs maintenance, they can perform the maintenance themselves. In many ways, health is wealth because you can turn that health into all sorts of activities that you’d otherwise have to hire others to do, or earn income to hire others to do, what we choose not to do.
Planning So You Don’t Have To Move
The other thing I can do when I’m healthy is plan for the time when I may be unhealthy. Carmen and I learned the following from interviewing seniors that wanted to remain in their homes. They did one or more of the things below to prepare for the time when they weren’t healthy.
Ensuring That I Can Stay In My Home When I Become Less Healthy
For our purposes, less healthy means you can’t maintain your home. Once I reach a stage when I can’t maintain my own home, it’s clear that I need help.
In this situation here’s where seniors go for help.
Staying In My Home When I’m Not Healthy
For our purposes, not healthy means you can’t maintain your home and you can’t maintain yourself. You can’t manage your medication or your finances. You can’t clean your house or do the laundry. If any of these conditions are tied to chronic or terminal health conditions, you’ll need a permanent solution. This becomes extraordinarily difficult. In this situation here’s how we’ve seen seniors manage. Rather, how others in the senior’s life manage for them.
> Everything in the two categories above
> A committed spouse or family members that lives full time with the disabled senior
– Performs all tasks for the incompetent senior
– Generally gives up their own day-to-day
> Respite care for the person above
– Other family members
– Paid caregivers
– Good use of community-based services
When we’re not healthy and won’t get better, the only way to stay in our own home is to turn it into an assisted living facility, and ultimately, a nursing home. Trying to do this last-minute is, at best a Hail Mary, and at its worst, a recipe for family disaster.
Other Resources On Staying In My Home
Great report on housing America’s older adults here.
CarePlanIt’s everything you need to know about senior housing here.