Ageing in Place

 

Options for Ageing in Place

 

  • Do Nothing 
  • Stay in your home – with modifications and maintenance
  • Use of in-home aged care services

 

You might not have heard the term Ageing in Place before, but you’ll definitely hear it again. A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found 90% of older Australians said they wanted to remain in their current home rather than move.

 

The benefits to staying in your home are obvious – a secure, familiar environment with the local community you know and love. But while you too may want to ‘age in place’, you’ll need to weigh up various factors, including:

  •  Does your reality match your fantasy?

You may be living in what used to be your dream home; however, now that the children are grown and your lifestyle and needs are changing, is it time to reassess the fantasy and dream something new?

  • Does the size and location of the home suit your needs now and in the future?

Why, for example, continue rattling about in a large family home on a leafy suburban street when you could move to a townhouse or apartment or even a retirement village in or near a vibrant area with shops, cafes, restaurants and everything else you need in easy walking distance?

  • Does your current neighbourhood suit your needs? – i.e., transportation, socially, safety, etc

Times do change, particularly if you have lived in the same home for decades. Do you still have opportunities for socialisation and visiting with family? Do you feel secure in your neighbourhood? Do you have available transportation should, for instance, failing eyesight infringe on your ability to drive? What aspects of the community and neighbourhood do you love and what is now missing?

  •  Are you financially able to Age in Place?

The answer to this question depends on many factors, not the least of which is whether you have the income to manage how you already live and still accommodate changing needs. If you would like to remain living in your existing home, but do not think you can afford it, there are alternatives to selling that may help you to keep your home. Be aware that these options may have an effect on your Age Pension (if applicable) and how much tax you pay.

 

Your Options Are:

 

Make no Changes. 

When evaluating your needs and goals for your future, you may decide you really don’t need to make any adjustments or modifications to your living situation.

 

If you’re in great health, with more than sufficient support systems surrounding you, this may be the right choice. However, at a minimum, we would urge all seniors to evaluate all options and develop a plan just in case they do have to make a housing change, and especially if that comes at a time when crisis occurs and choices are limited.

 

Stay in your home – with modifications and maintenance

It is possible that making modifications to your home and getting ongoing help with maintenance are all that is needed to help you stay in your home.  

 

Modifications can be as minor as adding more lights to accommodating failing eyesight. Maintenance help can be for the lawn, garden, daily house cleaning and the like.

 

While such changes can make a great difference to your comfort and safety in retirement, you need to be aware of the dangers of over-capitalisation or spending more money than you could expect to get back if you sold your home. This could happen if, for instance, you added a costly swimming pool to a small home, especially if property values in the area were moderate.

 

On the other hand, it may make sense to spend modest amounts of money on making practical changes to your home to make it safer, such as adding grab rails in the bathroom or installing additional outside lighting around your front steps.

 

As well as making you feel safer and more secure, changes like this could make the home more attractive to other older buyers if you eventually decided to sell.

 

However, home owners need to weigh up any costs of renovations against the costs of other options, such as moving somewhere more suitable. This is especially important if you expect your needs will change in the future; for instance, if you’re likely to consider downsizing into more appropriate accommodation to suit your needs in a year or so.

 

Think not only about now, but about a year from now and several years from now. As you consider the changes you might need to make, carefully include an assessment of the amount of disruption you can accommodate in your life, including how repeated moves might affect you.

 

If you do choose the option of modifying, or of enlisting the aid of ongoing help inside or outside the home, always use reputable and licensed professionals.

 

Use in-home aged care services

As the years go on, you may find you need help with managing day-to-day activities, from the more rigorous duties like lawn and garden maintenance to something as simple as changing a light bulb.

 

The Australian federal government subsidises many different types of services with the aim of meeting your changing needs as you get older, so you can live as independently as you can in your own home.

 

These services can include domestic assistance, personal care, meal services and nursing care. They can be delivered in two ways: the Home and Community Care (HACC) Package and through Home Care Packages. The program that is right for you will depend on the level of care you require.

 

A great resource is the My Aged Care website. Established by the Australian government, this site will help you and your family find more information about the services you might need and how to get help in receiving them. The website also offers information on approved service providers, eligibility requirements and assessment processors, and service costs. Links to My Aged Care and other useful websites can be found here. 

 

There are also private companies that can provide services across a range of community and ancillary health services. The user of these services is charged for all services provided and the hourly rate varies between companies supplying these services. You can contact private home service providers directly to discuss your individual needs and the cost of services required.

 

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