Aging in Place
Recently Charleston Financial Advisors, LLC, held a roundtable for clients and friends on the subject of Aging in Place (AIP). AIP is more a mindset than a place to live; it is the ability to transition and adjust as changes occur.
Participants discovered useful insights benefiting not only themselves but older family members. Paul Franklin and David Heilman represent the Greater Charleston Chapter of the National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC). Here are some thoughts worth passing along about challenges and solutions on this topic.
There are many emerging challenges. The U.S. percentage of over 65-year old’s, currently 14%, is rising steadily. This has resulted in an extended period of support that requires both financial and familial involvement. Financially, governmental funding comes from a smaller pool of workers; and the financial resources of today’s children are not as robust as their parents’. Long term care insurance, which was heralded as an answer, has become less affordable; the industry made several incorrect assumptions when the product first came out in the early 1970’s and underpriced it.
While the aged are living longer, their quality of life is not keeping up. For many, there are fewer opportunities to make a meaningful contribution to society. Their elderly children, in trying to meet the needs of ancient parents, find themselves tested emotionally at a time when their energy levels are starting to decline. To paraphrase Laurel and Hardy, “It’s a fine kettle of fish we’ve gotten into.”
Fortunately, solutions are beginning to develop. We may see a movement back to family centered care; the multigenerational family model of yesteryear may become the model of the future. Local governments are becoming more supportive of extended family. For instance, Mt. Pleasant zoning is changing to accommodate additions like a basement renovation or garage accommodations for family members. Some neighborhoods are organizing “Villages” where younger residents can do the chores that older neighbor cannot perform. These arrangements can extend the time one continues living in a non-institutional setting.
There are resources to help in picking a path through this thorny landscape. The NAIPC has developed a workbook, Act III: Your Plan for Aging in Place. It guides you through essential concerns that form the basis of a safe and secure existence in your home. The process will help you get a handle on the right approach to take as your circumstances change. I gave the template a ‘test drive’ and found it useful in drawing my attention to areas that I might be overlooking. Use www.ageinplace.org to take you to the Act III Template. While at the NAIPC website, you can explore a wealth of useful information.
They say that “Action Conquers Fear”. While the aging process is scary, tools like these open a door that will allow peace of mind to enter.