Wise is the person (or couple) who realizes this fact of life and makes some realistic plans to deal with life’s changes. It’s something that we all must accept as a part of getting older.
This fact was made clear to me upon the deaths of my own father and my father-in-law.
When You Don’t Have A Plan…
Aging in place is a common phenomenon these days. And my dad was no exception. He insisted on keeping the home where I was brought up — right up to the end.
Aging in place means growing older without having to move. Source
Our family of 5 kids were scattered all over the country, so it was purely to satisfy him that he and mom remained in the huge 2-story house that they had built together at the start of their marriage. It was Mom’s wish to move into something more manageable back as far as 10 years before dad’s death. But there was no convincing dad that it would make life easier.
With most of the family living out of the area, the burden of selling the property fell completely on my recently widowed mother. There was a lot of stress and emotional discomfort that could have easily been avoided, if only they had been able to downsize their lifestyle while they both had reasonably good health.
My father-in-law created a similar problem, even though he lived alone. Without a will, there was a rift created in the family that still exists to this day.
All of these problems could have been avoided with a reasonable plan in place. Such a plan would have made life easier as they aged and addressed the issue of what’s to be done at the time of death.
This hit close to home for my wife and I. We immediately began to design a plan for our future.
Deciding Where To Live
By planning for the years ahead as we age, these decisions also happened to put us in a good position to weather the current downturn in the economy much easier than many people.
We anticipate living in our own home approximately another 10 years. To that end, we wanted to have housing that is as maintenance-free as possible. As we are long past raising a family, 2 bedrooms is more than adequate space. It was also important to us to find the most cost-effective house; that just makes good financial sense.
We chose a new single wide mobile home. With today’s energy-efficient construction, our 6-inch walls and double-insulated windows provide us with a home built to handle the long winters in comfort — without breaking the bank and heating more space than we need.
A Small Apartment May Be Necessary
My wife and I both know that at some point in time there will only be one of us (or that maybe one of us will become disabled to some degree) and further downsizing will be needed.
To that end, we already know what senior housing options exist in our city and which ones are most convenient in terms of location and on-site programs. Our intention is to make this last downsizing well before our health makes that last move impossible for us to manage it on our own.
Maybe it’s fortunate for us, but by moving across the country a few times and living as full time RVers for a few years, we long ago gave up our emotional attachment to “things." It’s just furniture, as an example.
We’ve sold off most of what we owned a couple times in order to lighten the load for a long move. By looking at any new change in lifestyle as a grand adventure, we have found it easy to dispose of clutter that just holds us back or becomes a burden for those left behind.
Transportation & Getting Around
Knowing that winter driving is something that is an issue for us, we chose to be located on the city bus line.
Our city has an excellent public transit system. And we knew that when the time came that driving should be discontinued, we would still need a way to get around.
Another option would be to choose a smaller community that is near shopping centers and medical facilities. Planning in advance for the time that your driving skills will diminish is a must. You will always need to have the necessities close by.
Neighborhood, Community & Upkeep
The housing community we picked is well-maintained, well-lit, and has its own Neighborhood Watch program.
With snow removal provided promptly after each snowfall, the most mainten
ance required of us is shoveling about 10 feet of sidewalk and mowing the lawn — something that takes about 30 minutes.
With numerous teenagers looking for work, when the time comes that these chores become too much to handle, it will be a simple matter to hire the work out.
Do You Have A Will?
Without a will, your prized possessions will be sold off at auction — with the proceeds going no further then the first level of immediate family (or to the state if other relatives can’t be located).
Good intentions mean nothing unless you have a legal will that is located in a place where it will be found at the time of your death.
It’s a proven fact that we can’t take it with us at the end of the line. Why not give it to the kids early? Or, sell most of it and use the money for your own enjoyment? Or, just donate it to those less fortunate.
There’s No Time Like The Present
The time to prepare for these types of things is now.
When you do take that final step into the life beyond, why leave a mess for others to clean up? Worse yet, you don’t want to provide a battleground that could destroy the family you left behind.
Not only will you keep harmony amongst the relatives, but you’ll also be able to enjoy your final years without all the stress of trying to keep up a lifestyle that has served you well. Eventually, it will all be left behind.
More About Aging In Place:
I’ve been involved in RVing for 50 years now — including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller, you’ve got a good idea of who I am.