On October 8th, The Family Firm hosted a panel discussion for clients to discuss their housing options in retirement with a panel of senior housing experts. The event took place at Five Star Premiere Residences in Chevy Chase and the panelists were: Linda Hill, a Clinical Social Worker specializing in Elder Care, Steve Hage, a Certified Age in Place Specialist and Joel Danick, a Senior Move Manager. The event was moderated by The Family Firm President Nate Gendelman.
The panel addressed a number of questions frequently asked by clients as they are considering their housing options in retirement: How long can we remain in our current homes? Should we move into a retirement community? Should we be considering assisted living or other kinds of continuing care options? What other options are there as we age?
The panelists agreed that there is no one size fits all solution and that the key to making the best choice is to match your housing with your lifestyle, health, and financial needs. This could mean modifying your own home to make it safer and more comfortable, or it could mean moving to a retirement community with more support and social options.
Regardless of what your ultimate choice may be, the panelists agreed that waiting too long to create a plan is the biggest mistake that seniors make. Linda Hill noted that without a plan, a health or another unforeseen event can force an unwanted option on a senior. “If you don’t make your own plan and something should happen to you, others may have to make decisions on your behalf. These may not be the decisions that you would have made for yourself” she said.
One attendee asked, “I’m not ready to move to a CCRC but I want to downsize, what do I do? Is it reasonable to consider making more than one move”? Joel Danick explained that most of the difficult work occurs when seniors downsize for the first time and that it is very reasonable to expect to move more than once. He noted many seniors have lived in the same home for thirty or more years and have accumulated decades worth of household effects. This is often the biggest mental hurdle that seniors need to overcome and an area where Senior Move Manger can really help. Subsequent moves are usually much easier and straightforward than the first move.
For those seniors that are interested in ageing in place and staying in their homes Steve Hage explained that there are several home upgrades including adding a bathroom and a bedroom on the first floor of your home or installing a stair lift that can make aging in place physically more comfortable for seniors. However, Steve commented that seniors often fail to consider other aspects of ageing in place unrelated to physical changes to their home. For example, do you have a plan for in-home care should the need arise? Do you have friends and family nearby if you need help with errands? It can be socially isolating living at home by yourself, is this something that you would be comfortable with?
Linda Hill was asked, “When is the best time to involve adult children in the decision”? She recommended that seniors involve their children as early as possible in the process. Not only will this help relieve any anxiety that your children may have about your future, but it also ensures that your children know what your wishes are. “Having a plan and sharing that plan with your children puts you in the driver’s seat. In the unfortunate case where you can no longer make decisions on your own behalf your children know what you would like to have done” she said.
Panelists summarized the most common housing options available to seniors in retirement:
Ageing in Place is most suitable for those seniors who want to remain in their own homes. This arrangement is appropriate for seniors who have family and friends that live nearby, live close to accessible transportation options and who do not have physical needs or care that require a high level of care.
Independent Living Communities are housing arrangements that are designed exclusively with the needs of seniors in mind. Often referred to as retirement communities or senior housing, independent living is suitable for seniors that need only minor or no assistance with the activities of daily living. This can be a great option for seniors that like the idea of socializing with other retirees and that are looking for a housing option that does not require much maintenance or upkeep by the senior.
Assisted Living is usually reserved for seniors that need assistance with some activities of daily living and who also may need some help with medications. This housing option is most suitable for seniors whose personal care needs are greater than what can be comfortably provided in a home care environment but who do not require round the clock medical care.
Nursing Homes are options for seniors that require the highest levels of care outside of a hospital. Unlike other senior housing options, nursing homes provide high levels of medical care with doctors, nurses and other medical professionals easily accessible to residents.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) are retirement communities that have accommodations for independent living, assisted living and nursing home care. CCRCs are designed to accommodate a senior’s needs throughout the ageing process and a senior can spend the rest of their life in a CCRC moving between levels of care as needed.
If you would like to discuss your personal housing options in retirement please call or write to your Family Firm Advisor. To learn more about our panelists and their services please see their bios and links to their websites below. Linda Hill is the Associate Director of Aging Network Services located in Bethesda. She provides psychotherapy, consultation, and care management services to adult children and their parents. Linda is a member of the Alzheimer’s Association Speaker’s Bureau. Aging Network Services works with families to recommend necessary geriatric services such as doctors, facilities, home health aides, and eldercare lawyers. Linda received her Master of Social Work from the University of Maryland and was recently an adjunct professor at Catholic University, Graduate School of Social Work. Click here to go to Aging Network Service’s website.
Steve Hage is the owner of Strategies for Independent Living, LLC a design/build construction company specializing in aging in place and universal design. He is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. He began his career in the construction remodeling industry and started focusing exclusively on serving seniors and people with disabilities in 2001. To learn more about Steve and the services his company provides click here.
Joel Danick is the co-owner of TAD Relocation LLC, a full service senior move management company. They specialize in all aspects of move coordination, by assisting seniors, active adults, busy professionals, and their families throughout the Washington DC metro area with all of their moving and downsizing needs. Before joining his wife, the Founder of TAD Relocation, in 2005, Joel spent the previous 20 years in the service industry, serving on executive teams of local upscale supermarket and restaurants chains. You can learn more about Joel and his company here.