|SRES Newsletter – July 2020 US Edition; By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau||www.sres.org|
The Covid-19 crisis most certainly has caused people to reconsider all sorts of things in their lives – how and where they live, what’s no longer a priority, and the lifestyle changes they’ll make in a post-pandemic world.
And for many of those over the age of 55, the crisis has solidified their pledge to avoid any kind of group living setting – assisted living or continuing care – in retirement.
After all, Covid-19 deaths were rampant in many such facilities. According to the New York Times, more than 40 percent of U.S. deaths from Covid-19 were linked to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Moreover, residents who paid handsomely to buy a certain kind of lifestyle were all but held prisoner in such facilities and with no in-person contact with family members.
Consider what’s happened as a wake-up call and give some serious thought to your retirement housing – envisioning your future, weighing your options, looking at what’s available, examining your finances, and making a plan.
Though thinking about such topics is easy to put off, making such big decisions is best done in a calm, thoughtful way well before you’re forced to do so because of a health crisis.
If you know an institutional setting isn’t right for you, consider some of the non-traditional living options that have emerged.
Roommates – Who in your circle of friends would make good future roommates? Could you invest in a property together and hire shared care to help you as you age?
Tenants – Would you consider renting part of your house to college students or recent graduates, who could do tasks around the house in exchange for lower rent?
Village movement – Would you like to join an existing Village or start a Village Movement (a grassroots program in which neighbors volunteer to help neighbors age in place) in your community?
Communal living – Would co-housing, featuring a mix of ages, people, and communal spaces be your speed?
Campus retirement – Is lifelong education central to your life? If so, a university-based retirement is another option. Housing is located on or near a college or university campus, and residents are allowed to take classes and participate in campus life.
Still, the vast majority – 75%, according to AARP – of people prefer to age in place. If you’re among them, take a hard look at your home’s flaws and start exploring ways to make upgrades using universal design principles. Universal design addresses the needs of everyone and allows a property to be accessed and used by all people, regardless of their age or disability.
Some basic questions to address include:
- Where are the home’s potential dangers?
- How can you best adapt your house in a way that will keep you safe and active?
- How can you eliminate stairs?
- Is it possible to widen doorways to accommodate a walker or a wheelchair?
- How much can you afford to spend on upgrades?
- What are your financing options?
Consult with professionals – universal design experts, architects, and contractors — who can help you develop and execute an appropriate plan.
- – Foundation for Intentional Communities (https://bit.ly/3hybPdF); The Cohousing Association of the United States (https://bit.ly/2YzoiVS)
- — https://on.wsj.com/3e4UEOF; https://bit.ly/3e5ZDyC
- – Village to Village Network (https://bit.ly/3hunf2b); Beacon Hill Village (https://bit.ly/2N0KUsZ)