20 Jan Renovate? Downsize? Move Away? – Part 2 – Act now to age well
Having considered a variety of features about location and where to live, your next step is to identify housing solutions. You ought to assume that you will eventually have physical and possibly cognitive limitations, and you may have financial restrictions. But there is hope, and there are lots of options!
First, consider the various levels of functioning that your housing would have to meet:|
i) well elderly
ii) frail elderly living at home
iii) functionally impaired elderly living at home (or with children), supported by family, friends, and neighbours, and/or by privately- or publicly-funded home support
There are later stages requiring different housing:
iv) functionally impaired elderly living in facilities with 24-hour medical care
v) ill elderly requiring intensive medical care.
The following discussion is about the first three situations. It is easier to make changes ahead of time, before the need becomes pressing. Learning to accept help can also eliminate or delay institutional care.
Moving to an apartment or condominium to reduce costs, eliminate a lot of maintenance, or increase access to amenities and services, may be what you choose. It is wise to purchase an established condo with a proven financial track record, rather than a condo that is not yet built. Look for an apartment or condo that has a large and spacious bathroom, is without stairs inside your space, and which has an elevator to go between floors of the building. Check also that there are no stairs to exit the building.
Can you renovate or build an addition so that everything you need is on one level indoors, and accessible to the street and outdoors? Is there space to create a wheelchair-accessible bathroom and shower? How will you deal with yard maintenance and snow removal, and can you afford property taxes, heating, and other utilities? Friends, neighbours, and other forms of community support may help you live in your home for longer.
Whether for financial, social, or practical support, you might consider
– renting one to three rooms in your home as rooming, lodging, or boarding rooms
– living with your children (your space connecting to their space, with a closable door between, is considered good practice; keep your finances separate, so that either side can end the sharing at any time)
– sharing your home with someone else, like a small version of cohousing (next)
Gaining in popularity is housing for several people with shared spaces (e.g. laundry, guest room, kitchen, workroom/crafts, indoor and outdoor gathering places) . This addresses both a need for independence and a need for community. It also requires giving up some self-reliance and privacy.
A shining example of supportive housing is the Baba Yaga model in Paris. Women in 25 units care for each other, there is one nurse-caregiver, and four young people provide additional support. Other options are to modify your home for a live-in caregiver, share a caregiver with one or more neighbours, or pay for a rental suite in an assisted living facility (can be quite expensive).
As well as location and the type of accommodation, it is also important to de-clutter as part of the process. More on that another time.