Nationwide surveys indicate that when asked, between 80-90% of people over age 45 say they intend to reside in their own homes until they die. This is no surprise — why would anyone plan otherwise? Our homes represent a great number of things, with those below topping the list:
- The American Dream
- Autonomy and independence
- Privacy and personal space
- Sense of community
- Safety and security
- Pride of ownership
Sadly, however, there are few people who consider the challenges to “staying put” that can arise as one ages. Lack of consideration typically leads to lack of preparation and lack of preparation means moving when you really preferred to stay.
Here are 3 essential strategies for insuring you can successfully age-in-place through the end of your life.
Prepare the body
Prepare the home
Prepare the mind
There are two types of physical strength.
1. Macho Strength
This is the type of muscle building that body builders enjoy — macho strength.
2. Functional Strength
This type is what most fitness trainers will tell you is most critical as we age — functional strength.
One of the reasons so many people struggle to remain in their homes into late adulthood is they are unable to do the things they used to do. Simple functions such as opening a jar, turning a door knob, or reaching into cabinets become more difficult. Mobility decreases making maneuvering stairs and getting in and out of the shower or tub become challenging. Of course, the one everyone fears, but few plot against, falling and breaking a bone, particularly a hip or collar bone.
By engaging in physical fitness activities earlier and with more consistency, one can prepare a body in such a way that, combined with home preparation (see next section), remaining in their own home is manageable and much more realistic.
Our suggested solution: Join and become active in a nearby fitness program that focuses specifically on functional strength building. Hire a personal trainer to teach you exercises you can do at home to increase your muscle strength in the right places.
Continuing to live “at home” is going to require some preparation. It would be impractical to believe that the same home and lifestyle that you enjoy in middle adulthood will be the same into late adulthood.
The reality is that you will likely require some physical support (even if minor) once you enter your 80th decade and beyond. Being able to actually enjoy living in your home as you age may require some home modifications, support services, and lifestyle changes.
Without due diligence on your part in preparing your home for later adulthood, the likelihood of your being able to continue residing safely in your own home through the end of your life is unlikely.
Our suggested solution: Contact the Mature Moves OKC real estate team for a home assessment and recommendations to reputable local contractors who can equip your home with necessary preparations. You may be surprised at how inexpensive these minor changes can be, as well as some of the resources available for those who are bit strapped for cash.
Preparing your mind
I am a BIG advocate of thinking positively. What we focus on grows, right?
While this is true, it is also true that many mature adults believe that staying in their own home is the only way to maintain autonomy. The reality is that maintaining one’s independence is a matter of choice. This is of course with the exception of onset of extreme cognitive decline or illness affecting one’s ability to communicate effectively (more on that later).
Moving into a supportive community or living with family does not automatically lead to a loss of independence.
That is entirely a matter of choice — your choice.
Our suggested solution: Decide how you want to live in your later years. Share your expectations and thoughts (in writing) with your support system, especially close family who may be charged with caregiving tasks should you need increased short- or long-term assistance down the road. Proactively prepare your home in anticipation of being there forever AND make a decision that no matter where you live, you will remain in charge of your life!
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