Are There Pitfalls to Growing Old in My Home?

Written by Anita Saulite

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

One of the biggest considerations people approaching retirement must make is deciding on where to live.

Some people may consider selling the family home and downsizing to a smaller home or condo. Others might decide to move to a retirement community. According to the National Aging in Place Council, almost 90% of older adults prefer to grow old in their existing homes, or "age in place."

Aging in place is a matter of living in your home as long as possible and remaining independent.

Every situation is different. Aging in place might not be possible if a person is physically unable to live on his/her own. Similarly, a retirement community might not be ideal for someone who's independent and wants to stay that way.

According to the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP), affordability is a real issue because many homecare services are not covered by provincial health plans. And the older a person gets, the greater the likelihood that he or she will need costly homecare. Here are some of the more common services people need.

Home Reconfiguration

As we age, mobility often becomes an issue. Many homes are not designed for wheelchair or walker access. Bathrooms and showers could become a challenge. You may have to renovate your home in order to increase your mobility. A typical bathroom could cost thousands of dollars to modify. Kitchen renovations are also expensive, as is equipment to help a person get up the stairs. Ramps may need to be built outside to get up walkways and driveways.

De-Clutter and Space Planning

It's really easy to accumulate a lifetime of things or clutter in your home. You may need to purge your home of unwanted items for better use of space and to make it easier to manoeuvre around each room. There are companies across Canada that specialize in removing stuff from a person's home, in case there are no family or friends to help.

Meals and Groceries

Winter in some parts of Canada can pose a major challenge to those with reduced mobility. Getting to the grocery store when there are icy conditions may prove impossible. Community organizations involved in the "Meals on Wheels" program have been providing daily meal services to the elderly for years. Grocery stores in your neighbourhood may also provide delivery services, and a tip might be the only additional cost.

Medical Care

Medical attention or getting to the doctor may be needed. If you're not mobile, an in-home service might be your best option. As the population ages, private homecare has adapted for people who don't need a full-time caretaker or who have budgetary restrictions. There may also be public options available.

Home Maintenance

Getting in or out of your home is another consideration, particularly in winter months. Snow clearing of your driveway will be a must, as well as lawn care in the summer. These services could be expensive depending on where you live.

Added Expenses

There are added expenses to aging in place, and they can have an impact on someone's retirement cash flow. Living at home when you're older isn't the same as when you're younger and can do most things by yourself. It's essential to budget for the added expense aging in place brings.

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