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Plan ahead: Many options for senior living

By Portage County Business Council

Original published by the Stevens Point Journal

When it comes to senior housing, today’s retirees are refusing to settle for the tried and true.

Along with traditional independent-living communities, assisted-living facilities and the like, there are also other options to consider. Advances in technology are constantly providing new ways to live at home longer, and there are also innovative continuing care retirement communities that are able to transition with you as your housing and care needs change.

Boomers by the millions are starting to think about housing options and are driving changes in the real estate and renovation market to better reflect their desired retirement lifestyle — one replete with options, amenities, social structure and true independence. This generation wants well-designed homes, technology to make staying at home easier and retirement communities with plenty of fitness, cultural, social and educational opportunities. And they’re getting it.

Staying put

The vast majority of near-retirees say they want to stay in their own homes as long as possible. Surveys show this demographic prefers to be near family and friends in familiar territory. You might love the organic grocer down the street, hanging out at a nearby coffee shop or having Sunday dinner with the grandkids. If this is you, consider whether you are truly capable — financially and physically — to maintain your home and routine. There might come a time when you’ll need help with small repairs, lawn maintenance, cleaning, even changing light bulbs. Or when you’ll no longer be able to navigate your home, especially if there are steep hills, stairs or narrow doorways that make getting around a little more difficult.

To better prepare, consider renovations that could make it easier for you to live comfortably at home for many more years or perhaps in a home shared by your adult children. This could mean converting first-floor dens into bedrooms or adding a full bathroom downstairs. It’s not only about institutional details such as grab rails and ramps; today’s universal designs are more subtle and appeal to a wide-range of homeowners. Simple things such as door handles (instead of knobs), raised dishwashers, windows that open easily, and lowered light switches and thermostats can make daily life much more comfortable. Almost a quarter of remodelers surveyed last year were undertaking this kind of work so that they could stay put, and builders understand the changing needs, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Your adviser can help you crunch the numbers to determine if remodeling makes sense when compared to the costs of an independent-living community or assisted-living facility.

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