As we age, the issues of how and where to live begin to loom larger. Current and projected physical and mental decline often drive housing and care decisions. Medical costs alone are escalating and may be difficult to predict. While the majority of Americans successfully age-in-place at home, it is often not possible. Careful management of your health and detailed planning are critical to staying resilient and enjoying life.
When staying at home, physical alterations such as handrails, shower modifications, and chairs, and easy access to bedrooms and bathrooms are often needed. Moving to a single-story home or condo with ramps and elevators should be considered as part of future planning. Deciding to move early to a smaller and accessible home in order to conserve money and become familiar with the new setting often makes sense.
In-home care is expensive. Depending on how much assistance is required in everyday activities, long-term care policies may help with some of the costs. Because long-term memory is spared for long periods of time in cognitive impairment, individuals may function better in the home they know that in a new setting. However, this needs to be balanced against the effects of social isolation and loneliness that are known to affect your physical and mental health. Preserving a sense of control and independence is often the key to long-term happiness
Finances or care needs may dictate the need to consider alternatives to remaining at home. The types of facilities differ widely in cost and community culture. Issues such as loss of dignity, privacy, and freedom need to be carefully understood. State regulations and licenses govern health care facilities and dictate the types of care that can be provided at a particular level of care. Entrance into Life Care Communities usually requires a substantial buy-in which may later limit flexibility if circumstances change.
No matter what choices you face - getting the right advice and support early in the process helps ensure that you are in-charge and stay in control.