ASSESSING HOUSING NEEDS
Housing Options As We Age
Aging is a time of adaptation and change, and planning your future housing needs is an important part of ensuring that you continue to thrive as you get older. Of course, every older adult is different, so the housing choice that’s right for one person may not be suitable for you. The key to making the best choice is to match your housing with your lifestyle, health, and financial needs. This may mean modifying your own home to make it safer and more comfortable, or it could mean moving to a housing facility with more support and social options available on site. It could even involve enrolling in a network of like-minded people to share specialized services, or moving to a retirement community, an apartment building where the majority of tenants are over the age of 65, or even a residential care home.
When deciding on the housing plan that’s right for you, it’s important to consider not only the needs you have now but also those you may have in the future.
Any transition takes time! There is much to consider and whether it be renting, buying or selling or a combination of all, the process can take more time than we think. It is helpful to start this process or at least think about it sooner than later. Giving yourself time to research, change your mind (maybe a few times) and getting your name on some waiting list (possible options) certainly won’t hurt.
What are You Looking for in a Home?
Take time to think about your current and future housing needs. Consider downsizing or “rightsizing” if your current home is unable to meet your changing health or mobility needs.
If you decide it’s time to move, consider the following:
What will your monthly budget for housing expenses be in your retirement?
What are some of your housing must-haves?
Will you want to be closer to family or friends?
Will you want to be close to any specific services or facilities?
Will you need convenient access to public transit now or in the future?
Will you need specific accommodations for health or mobility needs?
How much home or yard maintenance will you want to do?
How much space will you need?
Considerations when Assessing your housing needs
Level of care. No one can predict the future. However, if you or a loved one has a chronic medical condition that is expected to worsen over time, it’s especially important to think about how you will handle health and mobility problems. What are common complications of your condition, and how will you handle them? Are you already at the point where you need daily help?
Location and accessibility. Even if you are completely independent at this time, circumstances can change. It pays to think a little about your current location and accessibility of your current home. For example, how far is your home from shopping, medical facilities, or other services? If you can no longer drive, what kind of transportation access will you have? Can your home be easily modified? Does it have a lot of steps or a steep hill to navigate? Do you have a large yard that needs to be maintained?
Social support. How easy is it for you to visit friends, neighbors, or engage in hobbies that you enjoy? If it becomes difficult or impossible for you to leave your home, you’ll become isolated and depression can rapidly set in..
Caregiving Support. You will want to consider housing where both your current and future needs can be met. Even if family members can commit to caregiving, they might not be able to fill in all the gaps if physical and medical needs become extreme. The more thought you put into your future, the better chance your needs will be met.
Finances. Making a budget with anticipated expenses can help you weigh the pros and cons of your situation. Senior housing options like assisted living can be expensive, but extensive in-home help can also rapidly mount in cost, especially at higher levels of care and live-in or 24-hour coverage. You may be able to purchase insurance to offset some of the costs of long-term care. In BC, subsidized housing provides some housing options for seniors under a certain income limit, while the provincial government covers the bulk of residential care for those with high need and limited income.
Need a professional assessment? Geriatric care managers can provide an assessment as well as assistance with managing your situation, including crisis management, interviewing in-home help, or assisting with placement in an assisted living facility or residential care homes.
Call the Home & Community Care office in Cranbrook, 250) 421-8912
Contacting Interior Health when relatively healthy is recommended, so that if/when a problem arises, one is all set to implement services.
Accessing Home and Community Care services through BC Interior Health
What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community?
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) are facilities that include independent living, assisted living, and nursing home care in one location, so seniors can stay in the same general area as their housing needs change over time. There is normally the cost of buying a unit in the community as well as monthly fees that increase as you require higher levels of care. It also can mean spouses can still be very close to one another even if one requires a higher level of care. Many of the care facilities in Cranbrook offer this model. Local communities are listed under links to Independent, Assisted and/or Residential Care above.