April Harris Jackson

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Aging in place is the ability to live in your own home and community independently, regardless of age or ability. It allows you to remain in familiar surroundings while maintaining a sense of autonomy. Planning ahead for aging in place is crucial to ensure a smooth transition and a comfortable future. 

By getting informed about aging in place, you can make good decisions that will positively impact your quality of life as you grow older.

Benefits of Moving Early

One of the main benefits of moving early is increased housing options. By planning ahead, you can explore different housing choices that cater to your needs and preferences. 

Enhanced quality of life is another advantage. If you start early, you can create a supportive and comfortable living environment that promotes your overall well-being while reducing stress. When you plan and prepare, you can avoid the rush and uncertainty of emergency moves. 

Improved safety is important, too. Adapting the living space to accommodate changing needs can prevent accidents and injuries, meaning you’ll be healthier and happier.

Assessing Your Needs

When planning to age in place, it is important to assess and address specific needs. Here are some things you can do:

  • Make simple home modifications like grab bars and clear plenty of space to walk or move with mobility aids.
  • Invest in medical equipment or technology like stairlifts, home monitoring systems, etc., for added peace of mind.
  • Check into community support services, like meal delivery programs and in-home care providers, to stay socially engaged. 
  • Secure accessible transportation so you can get where you need to go, even if your situation changes. 

Our area has awesome resources for those who want to stay independent without personal vehicles. Check out WeGo, Senior Ride Nashville, or Wilson County Rides in addition to rideshare programs. If you need transportation to a medical appointment and have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may have transportation benefits!

Exploring Housing Options

Independent living communities provide a range of housing options that cater to those who want an active and social lifestyle. These communities usually offer amenities and services designed to enhance well-being and promote socialization. 

Assisted living facilities are suitable for individuals who require some assistance with daily activities. Trained professionals are available to provide support while still allowing residents to maintain their independence. 

Nursing homes provide comprehensive 24/7 care for individuals with complex medical needs. These facilities offer skilled nursing services and rehabilitation programs. 

Our personal favorites, though, are continuing-care retirement communities. They provide a continuum of care, helping people transition seamlessly between independent living, assisted living, and nursing care as their needs change. While you may never need anything more than independent living, it’s comforting to know that you won’t have to plan another big move or relocate further from friends and family. 

Financial Planning

Most people ages 65 and up are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. Additional government assistance programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, may be available to eligible older adults. Exploring these options can provide extra financial support.

Consistently saving for retirement ensures you’ll have the necessary funds to support your desired lifestyle. Retirement savings, such as 401(k)s and IRAs, can help you live comfortably in retirement. If you are fortunate enough to have a pension, it will be a great resource to help your quality of life in your golden years.

For these types of accounts, you’ll want to make sure that you name a beneficiary with your financial institution. If you have a pension, you will need to designate whether you want your spouse to continue receiving income in the event that you predecease them. 

Medicare and Medicaid are government programs that provide healthcare coverage for seniors. Understanding the eligibility criteria, available benefits, and how (or whether) they can be combined with other plans is essential for effective financial planning.

Your Medicare coverage may assist with certain improvements to your home and home health care under limited conditions. Medicaid (also called TennCare) is frequently used by individuals in nursing homes to supplement their income to pay for care.  

Long-term care insurance can help cover the costs of assisted living, nursing homes, and in-home care. It provides financial security and peace of mind for individuals planning their futures and provides more robust and flexible solutions than relying on Medicare or Medicaid alone.

Long-term care insurance can be expensive, but there are newer options to make it a better value overall, such as hybrid policies that provide a death benefit and deduct the amount spent on long-term care needs. Your insurance agent is a great resource to talk through these options. 

Building a Support Network

Family and friends play a vital role in supporting those who wish to age in place. Reliable support systems can provide emotional support and practical assistance, ensuring that loneliness is never an issue. 

Community organizations like FiftyForward and other local non-profits offer various activities and services to help seniors stay connected. Support groups for older adults can offer a space to share experiences, find understanding, and receive advice from others facing similar challenges. These groups foster a sense of community and provide emotional support. 

Professional caregivers can provide specialized assistance and care for individuals who require additional support. Hiring trained professionals can ensure individuals receive the help they need while remaining in their own homes.

Maintaining Independence

Physical exercise and wellness are essential for maintaining independence and overall well-being. Engaging in regular exercise like walking or fitness classes can improve strength, balance, and flexibility. 

Mental stimulation and cognitive health are also important. Doing puzzles, reading, and socializing can help keep your mind sharp and promote cognitive function. A little daily Wordle competition is a favorite in April’s house. 

Nutrition will help you maintain good health. A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can support overall well-being and energy levels. 

Keep appointments with doctors and specialists to manage existing health conditions and address new concerns. Regular check-ups, screenings, and preventive care can help individuals stay healthy and catch any potential issues early.

Want More Info on Aging Gracefully?

Taking these steps will help increase your chances of having a comfortable and fulfilling future. 

Remember, it’s never too early to start thinking and planning for your golden years. 

By the way, there’s a FiftyForward event coming up on 1/16 to discuss housing. We’ll be there – will you?