Greetings one and all…
It is another glorious day in Colorado. Blue skies and sunshine are on tap for this morning with the possibilities of afternoon showers. Such is the daily rhythm of the mid-summer season along the Front Range. I arose particularly early this morning as I have a long list of things to accomplish today in preparation for the upcoming week. I have the back door open—enjoying the cool breezes and the soothing morning sounds. Today, I am incredibly thankful to live in such a life-giving location. Location. Such an important factor in the overall quality of life as well as our ability to age well in place.
Tomorrow I am presenting a program on the importance of “the setting” as we age. The well-known mantra of realtors—location, location, location—is relevant regardless of age. However, as we get older and subsequently experience the challenges of aging and illness, location becomes an increasingly important factor in the aging process. Furthermore, we are wise to contemplate the pros and cons of our current residence based on our current AND future situation. A setting that serves you well today (multi-level home for example) may be quite challenging twenty years from now due to physical or cognitive disabilities. Although we are not clairvoyant, we are wise to contemplate the “what ifs” and consider the available options well in advance of the crisis.
How can we be proactive regarding the setting in which we live? The first step entails an assessment of our current situation. Consider the following:
- The community in which you live—rural or metropolitan?
- Access to health care
- Public transportation options
- Access to basic services—grocery store, pharmacy, retail shops, etc.
- The neighborhood—demographics, safety concerns, and community support
- The residence—needed repairs and design
- Health status—you and your family members
- Your wants and needs
- Your hopes and fears
- Available resources—financial, social support system, and community services
After taking stock of your current situation, consider the “what ifs” in subsequent years. What if you can no longer drive? Is there accessible public transportation? What if physical limitations prohibit ambulation? Is your home multilevel? What if you need daily assistance with activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, eating, etc.)? Are there home health service providers in your community? Does your current location—perhaps with a bit of remodeling— afford you the opportunity to age well in place? If your answer is yes…FABULOUS! If not, it’s time to consider your options in anticipation of a location change.
If aging well in place is not a viable option where you currently reside, what is? Well, depending on your particular situation (social support system, financial assets, personal preferences), let’s consider the typical location alternatives as well as some innovative ideas currently being developed and promoted nationally:
- Move in with a family member—often the most financially viable option
- Transition to a long-term care community (independent, assisted living, skilled nursing, or memory specific care)—dependent on personal needs and financial resources
- Home Sharing—sharing a home with strangers or friends for social and/or financial reasons
- Cohousing—intentional communities designed to share the lived experience
- Niche Communities—communities that share a common identity (artists, musicians, writers, etc.)
- Multigenerational Home—3+ generations living together for financial, social, and/or health care reasons
- The Village Model—neighbors-helping-neighbors membership organization designed to help people age well in place
- Tiny Houses—financially beneficial, mobile, and can be customized to accommodate physical and/or cognitive impairments
I understand it is a bit daunting to look ahead and recognize that your current location may not serve you well down the road. But it’s better to realize the limitations of your location today than in the midst of a crisis ten years from now. Today, you have the opportunity to carefully consider your options, make a rational decision, and reap the benefits of a location that allows you to age well in place. Proactive beats reactive every time. Plan well in order to age well…a good thing indeed!
I look forward to the ongoing conversation. If you have specific questions or concerns related to your caregiving experience, I would love to hear from you. Until the next posting, I wish you and yours countless blessings…jane
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