Where I expect to live By David Williams

Developing and updating a strategy for where you want to live is an important step in your longevity planning.

Most older Australians want to age in place, not move. This can be affected by many issues, such as:

• How appropriate your current dwelling is to your changing needs – including its size, layout and maintenance needs
• The timing, scope and cost for home modifications to keep it suitable
• The availability and cost of home care
• Availability of suitable alternative accommodation in your local community.

A common presumption is that older people are living in houses that are too big for them. While
many of their homes have three or more bedrooms, surveys suggest that older people often find other uses for spare rooms such as guest accommodation (either paying or free) or for hobbies.

Each situation is very personal and requires trade-offs, often needing support in making them.

Why Stay at Home?

There are many advantages if you stay in your own home:

• You’re able to keep your familiar routines and stay near your family and friends
• You remain involved in your local community and keep your independence
• Avoid the stress of packing up and moving
• You’ll be handy to your GP and others you know and trust
• Your home will usually gain in value over time.

The Federal Government’s priority was to support people staying in their own home. This was intended to take pressure off residential aged care which was inadequately supervised and received bad publicity before and during the pandemic. While this situation is being addressed, it will not be quickly resolved.  

A weakness in the ‘staying at home’ strategy has been the inadequate supply of home care services, leading to long delays in access to those entitled to them. Additional funding has been made available, but the lack of trained personnel will remain a challenge. The current service is outlined here.

The upgrading of the Home Equity release scheme is also intended to fund maintenance and other financial requirements while continuing to stay put. You can find more information here.

Priorities for an acceptable home can change so it’s important to establish a plan which takes account of your current reasons for staying where you are and review it regularly.

What could change?

At some point, your care and accommodation needs may be better addressed by alternative accommodation. Reasons could include:

• Loss of a partner
• Health changes
• Cost and difficulty of maintaining the home and surrounds
• Physical difficulties in living, including access to transport, mobility around the home
• Wanting somewhere smaller
• Changing lifestyle
• Closer to family, and to friends who may have moved

Having a current longevity plan in place means you have a good starting point for dealing with these changes.

What are the alternatives?

Each of us is different. To help you focus on what may be right for you, we suggest two books written by Australians for local circumstances. Together they canvas the important choices that help you make the best of your longevity. Both are by Rachel Lane and Noel Whittaker.

• Downsizing Made Simple

Downsizing isn’t about living in a tiny home — unless you want to. It’s about having the right home for the next stage of your life. If you feel it’s time to consider moving, this book will help you with your decisions.

• Aged Care Who Cares? (Third Edition)

Aged Care Who Cares? is the definitive book to cover the vast range of options available to senior Australians today. Whatever your financial status, current state of health or future hopes and plans, you’ll find down-to-earth advice to help you make the best choices about aged care in Australia.

You can review and purchase both books here.

While these decisions look daunting, many people are making them. Longevity planning is a systematic way of breaking down and dealing with the challenges and opportunities in your future. Your Able stage is the best time to get these decisions in place, to help you enjoy and make the best of the rest of your life – your longevity. Visit www.mylongevity.com.au to update your SHAPE information and your Longevity Plan.

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