AARP states that 87% of adults over 65 want to stay in their current homes as they age. However, realistic planning and the necessary conversations surrounding these logistics are often neglected. Far too many consider this planning to be an end of life issue which is anxiety provoking. I encourage you to view aging in place planning as an opportunity. You are planning on how to live your life.
Aging in place planning is not just giving you the chance to live independently but ensuring that today’s choices, and those made in the future, are all yours.
This 3-step process helps you prepare for your independence:
- Organize your Papers – People often have a will, advanced directives, power of attorney, and maybe even funeral arrangements. But the organizational needs don’t end there. These are the macro items. There are many micro items as well – bill paying schedule, password tracking, asset/liability summaries, insurance policy reviews, and medical management. By cleaning out the home office and creating comprehensive information summaries and payment/maintenance schedules you minimize errors and enable a smooth transition when the time comes.
- Assess your Home – Ask yourself, can you realistically live in your current home as your physical and cognitive abilities evolve? How would you navigate your house? Your yard? How will leaves and snow be removed, storm windows get changed, and gutters be cleaned? Can your hallways support a wheelchair? Is there too much clutter? A comprehensive home assessment and detailed plan consider all these factors and identify specific action steps to take.
- Identify your Support – With the goal that you are always the final decision maker, it is critical to identify who will be responsible for tasks you may eventually relinquish. Who do you trust to assume which responsibilities? Family, community, and paid services are all options. Regardless, these decisions need to be made, documented, and communicated. When this is done in advance, family and personal relationships are often strengthened and expectations understood.
Advanced planning and preparations gives you the power and autonomy to age where and how you want. Planning early is important because as we age our cognitive abilities decrease and we are not always conscious of our own cognitive decline. Even older adults who are physically healthy and highly educated may start to have problems managing complex situations and tasks. The U.S. Congressional Budget Office estimates that about one-third of people age 65 and older and two-thirds of people over 85 report functional limitations of one kind or another. More than two-thirds of 65-year-olds need assistance to deal with a loss of functioning at some point.
Another reason to plan early is to avoid making decisions in crisis. When this happens, you are most likely constrained by time, have limited choices available, influenced by stress, and clouded by emotion. When you plan ahead while you are clear minded, cognitively sharp, and have the time needed to deliberate you make decisions that reflect the best choices for how you want to live your life.
The most successful plans include allowing your loved ones to participate in the development. This does not mean that you are giving up the decision making, it simply means you are consulting and including those closest to you. Having family consensus allows for a smooth implementation and avoids conflict in the future. Your plan for aging should be verbally communicated to all those affected and also be put into writing. Ideally, more than one person will have a copy of your written plan.
Different services are available to help you complete the three-step process to prepare for aging in place. In conjunction with them RTD Can provide planning and personal assistant services to simplify our clients’ lives. By helping clients manage the details of life they can focus their attention on what matters most to them. Our planning services allow clients to make decisions leading to greater independence and flexibility. In addition, they can provide another layer of support to protect against scams and ensure that our clients remain in control of their financial and personal assets as their cognitive and physical conditions change. For more information, please reach out to your financial planning team.