12 Jan Renovate? Downsize? Move away? Part 1 – Act now to age well
Inertia is often the biggest barrier to creating suitable housing for ourselves for the long term. The time to act is now, because more and more of us are going to live a very long time. Acting now instead of when the need is urgent also gives us more time and more choices to make good decisions.
If we want housing that supports fulfilling, quality lives, the most important step is to identify now what we need and want from our homes in the future. Here are some things for you to consider. Different people will have different priorities, so be sure to discuss these if you have a partner!
Access to services and various amenities
It may be easier in urban rather than rural areas to access such things as grocery stores, health and social services, veterinarian clinics, arts and community centres, and government buildings. It will probably also be more expensive to live in an urban area.
What are your options when driving a vehicle is no longer possible? Can you access public buses? Afford taxis? Rely on family members and other people?
Engagement with others
Consider your network of friends and neighbours, and feeling a sense of belonging where you live. A strong social network may also be increasingly important as you become more reliant on others. Do you have a social support network already in place, or do you need to start building one now, or will you be able to purchase all the services you may need?
How will you stay connected to family and other near and dear ones? This is easier in today’s electronic world with Skype and e-mail, but hugs are also important.
Growing and learning
Do you want access to programs, workshops, and a library? Do you want to continue with your hobbies?
Will you want to have a pet, and how will you provide care?
How important is an attractive, appealing environment? Do you want places for outdoor physical activity? How important to you is visual or physical access to nature and beautiful scenery? Is a warm climate the most important thing for you?
Once you have a clear idea of your priorities, the next step is to consider housing options. Is it feasible to modify your own home or apartment for the long term, or is moving somewhere else within the same neighbourhood an option? Maybe you’ll consider moving across the country to stay close to family.
In an ideal world, planners would create a variety of housing options that would enable older adults to age in place. This means everything that’s needed would be on one level, with no need for stairs, and room to manoeuvre a walker or wheelchair, use the toilet, and have a shower. There are lots of ways to house ourselves in order to age well without costing a fortune, and I will review various ideas in another blog.