How to Pick a Health PlanMarch 15, 2023
Spendable WorthMay 23, 2023
Navigating the journey of life—if we are fortunate—takes us to a place called “older” and then “old.” The lyrics of a wonderful Kate Wolf song come to mind, “Baby we are sailing on that rolling sea of time. Sometimes up, sometimes down, but never in a line. Rushing with the wind or driven on the tide. Sometimes tossed along together, sometimes one is left behind.”
It’s hard to know the best “craft” for the ride given the uncertainty involved. But it’s important to get it right, which means to anticipate what might happen and what experiences you would like to have. You need to understand how you feel about continuing to live where you are now.
Where we live reflects and reinforces our quality of life. Financial advisors who aren’t willing to talk about home, the single biggest expense in retirement, are common, and it’s a pity. It’s an example of financial advice as a commodity rather than a useful service. In surveys people indicate they are much more likely to talk to their doctor than their financial advisor about where to move.
“Aging in place” for some people captures the desire to live out their days in the place where memories live, from the years of married life, rearing children, and entertaining friends. For some people it is the wish to die at home. In between those two possibilities is the reality that life after full time work could easily represent 1/3 of your life, and many people are asking themselves if they want to seek out new adventures, a different climate, or proximity to new opportunities.
According to AARP, 75% of us would rather remain in our homes for the rest of our lives than move to an assisted living community. And according to a 2018 Stanford study*, 80% of Americans prefer to die at home. This is one of the most significant places where my favorite phrase fits: it’s better to prepare than repair. It is an area where the absence of preparation more than likely results in emotionally reacting to an emergency or changes in ability. The risk is that a tsunami, in the form of an accident or illness, will make it impossible to remain at home, in the short or long term.
Here are some questions to get you started. If you are doing this as a couple, keep in mind that it is most common for there to be congruence on some goals as well as differences. It is valuable to get to the true goals each one has individually as you explore alternatives and weigh the trade-offs.
Is your current home where you’d like to live throughout your retirement? If your answer is yes, one of the challenges you might be facing is that loving family members do not see your home or the surrounding neighborhood as a good match for that intention. It’s important to consider these possible challenges and look for alternatives and resources that could help.
As you look down the road, what are the challenges you might face living in your current home? Is the support system that might become necessary to allow you to stay at home, from someone to mow the lawn or change the lightbulb to professional care for you, going to be affordable? Are you relying on support from family members who haven’t been brought into the conversation about whether this is plan that works for them?
Consider your home: are there parts that need to be modified to allow you to continue living there comfortably? How will you budget for these changes? If limited mobility or cognitive decline is a current or potential concern, facing the possibility that a future move is inevitable will allow for important conversations to start happening about what kind of experiences you want to have.
Do you want to consult a Senior Move Manager to look at options for down the road when you might want to move to a senior community?
Do you want to talk to an Elder Real Estate Specialist about downsizing?
Do you want to consider using an Alert System like Lifeline or LifeAlert?
I love the work I do with my clients on their “Aging Plan” and housing is a big piece. I offer this service as part of my comprehensive financial planning services with my full-service clients, as well as on a project basis. Let me know if you’d like to learn more about this service.