How can I age at home?

Do you hope to live in your current home until you die? If your answer is “yes,” you’re in good company. Studies by AARP and MetLife show that 90% of Americans want to stay in their current home until the end. Yet only 30% of Americans get their wish.

Will aging at home be possible for you, even if you develop a long-term illness?

The “if you develop a long-term illness” part of that question is rarely answered in the traditional retirement planning process.

If you want to avoid being forced to move when your health fails, the key is to already be living in your “forever” home when that illness happens. You need to envision what it will take to be safe and comfortable in this home if you develop mobility issues. You need to envision what it will take to bring any care and services you need into your home. Remember, if a health crisis forces you to move, the place you’re most likely to end up is a long-term care facility.

How do you plan for this? You start by living in an age friendly home that adheres to the principles of Universal Design, a home located in an age-friendly neighborhood. You think ahead about proximity—to the care and services you’re likely to need, and to the family members who will be advocating for your wellbeing as you age. Equipping your home or relocating to a more appropriate home takes money, and it takes money to pay the people who will be providing care, so you don’t end up relying on family members to serve as unpaid caregivers.

You don’t need to spend a fortune to age at home if you do the right planning. Here’s how to get started.