Housing Issues as We Age
By the time most people reach age 70, they are still healthy, able to drive, prepare meals, engage socially and live independently. For many, they are still able to maintain these activities at age 80. But what about age 90 or 100? At some point, aging catches up with nearly everyone. We may remain relatively healthy, but deteriorating faculties may limit our ability to drive or keep up with household chores and yardwork. Mobility issues may even prevent us from walking up stairs or reaching upper cabinets.
While many aging issues do not require that we move out of our homes, they should be addressed long before the time when we stop functioning as in the past. No matter what your age, it’s never too early to prepare for the future. In fact, the director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology‘s AgeLab has come up with three questions to ask yourself about how well you are prepared to age at home in the future. Each question represents a set of issues common to the elderly:1
- Who will change my light bulbs? (addresses home maintenance)
- How will I get an ice cream cone? (addresses transportation and basic errands)
- With whom will I eat lunch? (addresses social activity)
Retirees who are committed to living out old age at home should develop a plan and dedicate funding resources to address each of these broader issues. For those who truly treasure independence, their plans should not rely solely on friends and family members with competing priorities. For instance, you’re not truly independent if you must rely on your daughter-in-law to take you grocery shopping when she’s only available on the weekends. Your son may not be able to drop by for a couple of days to change the lightbulb in your bathroom, leaving you in the dark with increased chances for injury.
Just as true independence for teenagers and young adults doesn’t involve getting a ride or a loan from a parent, true independence as an aging retiree means preparing a thoughtful plan for the future. This may include interviewing individuals or agencies that provide homemaker and/or home health services to decide who you want coming into your home, possibly hiring them to start on a limited basis. It may mean trying out driving services such as Uber or a community senior van, even when you can still drive.
After all, it is a lot easier to adjust to change when you still have options than when you no longer have a choice.
1 Wade Pfau. Retirement Researcher. Feb. 2, 2016. “Should I Stay or Should I Go? Housing Decisions in Retirement.” https://retirementresearcher.com/should-i-stay-or-should-i-go-housing-decisions-in-retirement/. Accessed March 26, 2018.
Money Saving Tips
New Housing Bubbles
Not only has the residential real estate market in many locations fully recovered from the debacle during the recession, it has actally exceeded previous peaks. A report from the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index released at the end of 2017 revealed that nationwide average home prices were not only up by 6.3 percent from the prior year but had surpassed the previous record high in 2006 by 6.3 percent.1
However, those highs reflect a nationwide average; they are not consistent in every locale. In fact, areas that are experiencing a housing bubble tend to skew the numbers when viewed in totality. The following areas are currently experiencing the most significant housing bubbles.2
- Dallas-Fort Worth — Up 6.9% year-over-year and 43% from its prior peak in June 2007.
- Denver — Up 7.4% year-over-year and 45% from its peak in July 2006.
- New York City — In the condominium market, the index is up 3.6% year-over-year, 5% above the prior housing bubble peak in 2006 and up 173% since 2000.
- Portland — Up 6.8% year-over-year, 73% since 2012, 20% above its former peak in 2007 and 123% since 2000.
- San Francisco — Counties surrounding San Francisco (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo), including Silicon Valley, are up up 9.2% year-over-year, 32% higher than the 2007 housing peak, up 86% since the end of the housing bust (2011) and up a total of 153% since 2000.
- Seattle — Up 12.7% year-over-year, 21% from the housing bubble peak in 2007 and 80% since the end of the housing bust.
One of the most pressing problems associated with this latest housing bubble is that wages have not kept up with residential real estate.3 This means many young adults have been shut out of the housing market for more than 10 years.
1 Wolf Richter. Business Insider. Feb. 28, 2018. “9 U.S. cities where a new housing bubble may be forming.” http://www.businessinsider.com/9-us-cities-where-a-new-housing-bubble-may-be-forming-2018-2. Accessed March 26, 2018.
Services Retirees Can Use At Home
Rather than moving to an assisted-living community, retirees in some areas can hire individuals to provide comparable services via house calls:1
- Homemaker — assists with light household duties such as laundry, meal preparation, general housekeeping and shopping
- Home-Health Aide — hands-on care for basic health-related tasks such as getting out of bed, bathing and dressing
- Visiting Nurse — takes vital signs, addresses ongoing medical conditions, administers medications, treats wounds or bed sores,
- Physical Therapist — works with strength and mobility exercises
- Occupational Therapist — focuses on functional abilities to help facilitate independence
- Uber Health — the transportation service now works with doctor’s offices and other medical facilities to arrange rides for patients; driver appointments are scheduled and paid for by the healthcare provider, not the patient.2
1 Raymond James. Jan. 15, 2018. “Frequently Used Services for Retirees at Home.” http://www.raymondjames.com/pointofview/frequently-used-services-for-retirees-at-home. Accessed March 26, 2018.
2 Tom Murphy and Tom Krishner. Phys.org. March 1, 2018. “Uber starts offering rides to the doctor.” https://phys.org/news/2018-03-uber-doctor.html. Accessed March 26, 2018.
Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.
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