What do senior citizens need to do to age in place?
Most Canadian seniors would prefer to stay in their homes for as long as possible, what is referred to as aging in place, rather than in an assisted living facility, according to recent studies that have come out this year.
Below, I’ll share some practical tips on how to age in place, so you can continue living life on your terms.
How to age in place peacefully
Compared to an assisted living facility or retirement community, aging in place in your own home has a number of benefits, including:
- You don’t have to downsize your home or possessions
- The comfort of living in a home where you’ve built memories
- No rules or schedules to adhere to
That being said, aging in place also requires seniors to be more responsible for themselves. If you’re unable to handle certain responsibilities on your own, you may need to hire assistance. Aging in place is certainly possible, though. Here are some things to consider and plan for if you want to retire and age in place.
Home care is usually less expensive than assisted living facilities. Nursing home costs can range greatly, from $1,400 to $6,000 per month, according to Comfort Life. They may even cost thousands more depending on amenities and level of care, as well as location. Assisted living is also quite expensive, at an average of around $3,300 per month per one-bedroom apartment, according to ComForCare.
Another option is to hire personal support workers (PSW) to help with care. Personal support can range from $28 - $35 per hour, home support can range from $25 - $33 per hour, and nursing can range from $55 - $80 per hour, according to GetHelpers.ca.
The question arises of who will pay for whatever option you will choose, as this is no small expenditure. There are a few options:
- Family members such as children can help pay for it.
- If you have enough savings and retirement income coming in, the person receiving the care can pay for it.
- Assets may need to be liquidated, such as a home.
- If you’re unsure about how you will pay for the costs, find a financial advisor who could assist you with a plan.
1. Decide where you want to retire
First off -- you’ll want to decide where you want to age in place. If you’re set on staying in your family home, then you’ve probably already decided. However, if you’re ready for a change of scenery, you should start researching a place that fits your wants and needs.
If you retire at 65, you could well live to see another 20 to 30 years (especially with today’s advancements in medical technology). It’s better to always overestimate how long you will live, so you’ll leave some buffer room for your calculations. You may also need to take into account the cost of personal support workers should you require more assistance if you stay at home. The same Ipsos study suggested The older you get, the harder it will be to pick up and move, though. This means it’s important to figure out where you want to spend the rest of your days.
Factors that may play a part in this include:
- Proximity to family and friends
- Nearby doctors and medical facilities
- Cost of living
- The climate and weather (how severe are the winters?)
- Activities and things to do
- Transportation (public transportation, ride-sharing, nearby airports, etc.)
I recommend making a list of people, things, and places that are important to you. Then, use this list as a benchmark for qualifying various cities and towns to meet your needs.
2. Have a transportation plan
You may be a great driver today, but Statistics Canada data shows that seniors over 70 have a significantly higher risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. At a certain point, you’ll need to rely on outside transportation if you plan on getting out of the house, socializing, or just running basic errands and making it to your appointments.
The closer you are to a major city or town, the easier it will be to find transportation. Public buses and trains are more available in populated regions. It’s also easier to hail an inexpensive Uber or Lyft. However, if you’re in a more rural area, finding transportation may be more difficult and costly.
If you want to age in place in a rural location, I recommend moving somewhere close to friends or family who can offer you a ride on short notice.
3. Ensure that your home fits your mobility needs
The older you get, the more difficult you’ll find stairs, steep inclines, and walking long distances. Many seniors find it easier to retire in a one-storey house compared to a two-storey house. However, you can also elect to install a lift or ramps to help you ascend and descend stairways, which can range between $3,000-$5,500 for straight stairs, according to one provider, Stannah.
4. Have a home maintenance plan
Your home is also aging, the same as you are. If you own a home (as opposed to renting), you’ll need to consider home maintenance items, such as:
- Landscaping and snow removal
- Simple home repairs
- Putting a new roof on your home
- Pest control
I recommend having a list of trustworthy, local contractors you can rely on to take care of maintenance items as they arise. If you have a larger home, you may also want to plan for a periodic house-cleaning service as well to take care of deep cleaning.
5. Take advantage of meal delivery
As you age, you may not always find the energy to cook a full meal for yourself. In times like these, it can be helpful to have a subscription to a meal delivery service so that you can always count on healthy food.
If you live close to a larger town or city, you may also be able to use food and grocery delivery services like DoorDash, Skipthedishes, or UberEats to deliver pre-made meals and simple grocery items to your front door.
Planning to age in place
Aging in place can be very peaceful as long as you start planning ahead of time. Knowing where you’re going to retire and having a plan in place for transportation, home maintenance, and in-home care will ensure that you can age in place and keep living on your terms.
Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder and former financial advisor. He writes personal finance tips for thousands of daily Canadian readers on his Wealth Awesome website.
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