Get Serious about post-pandemic housing

SRES Newsletter – July 2020 US Edition; By Elyse

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.


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