In his month of July, where we celebrate a declaration of independence from a tyrannical government, we should give thanks for life in a country where we are free to live where we want to, speak what we want to and worship where we want to. As we grow older, if we want to live in the home we have occupied for so many years, that is our decision. It can be a good choice, but not always. An article in the April, 2015 “Wealth Planning” magazine gives us food for thought. “Aging in place” is apparently the common description for living out your life in your present home and is defined by the Centers for Disease Control as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level.” Here are some important considerations that should go into the final decision. In this discussion, it is assumed that the parent is capable of making decisions; otherwise the “child in charge” should pay attention. First, try and get an accurate estimate of the actual cost of living in the home. Not only mortgage, tax and insurance, but also repair costs and possible additions of ramps, new air and heat systems, alarm company expense, hand rails, etc. A study by MetLife found that adding no step showers or remodeling a kitchen for accessibility can run from a low of $8,000 to $75,000. Also, do you need a house the size that you now occupy? Could there be savings in downsizing? Selling the house could provide important funds to supplement your lifestyle. Reinvest the equity and earn money on it in lieu of paying out money for upkeep.
What will be the cost of home health care? Is it covered by a long-term care insurance policy or coming out of savings? Are any family members willing and able to provide assistance when needed? Are you close to friends that will provide social interaction? I watched my mom’s circle of friends shrink almost monthly as she got older. In the last few years, by choice, she was a stay-at-home recluse, except for Sunday church. Life for her was not much fun; she gave up on living and focused on dying. Transportation also becomes an issue. It is very hard to tell your parent that they are not allowed to leave town if they plan to drive. The consequence of not taking that step can be even more traumatic if an accident occurs. It can also be a financial disaster if there is injury or loss of life to a third party due to irresponsible driving by our parent.
Is it hard to leave your home? Certainly. Will you be more secure, more active and more emotionally healthy if you interact with others in a senior living community? Will your quality of life improve if you don’t have to worry about driving, maintenance of a house or medical care? The “old days”, for better or worse, are gone. I think, in many and most situations, giving up the family home and relocating to a safe neighborhood or facility designed for the senior citizen will be the best decision. It is not too soon to start planning. Also, Psalm 105 may give some direction: “Search for the Lord and his strength; continually seek his face. Remember the marvels he has done, his wonders and the judgments of his mouth.” As a commentator in the April “Forward” suggested, “if they were going through rough times in the present, the ancient Israelites recalled all that God had done for them in the past. This helped to reassure them that their God would deliver and sustain them again in the future. What about us? Reflect on your own life. When has God sustained, protected and delivered you? Can you trust that this same God will sustain, protect and deliver you in the future?” I pray that you can and will.
Although this information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, it cannot be guaranteed. This material is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized tax, legal or investment advice. FSC Securities Corp does not offer tax or legal advice. Securities, insurance and investment advisory services offered through FSC Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC and a registered investment advisor 3416 North Blvd, Alexandria, LA 71301, (318) 448-3201. The views expressed are not necessarily the opinion of FSC Securities Corporation.