We all want to live a healthy and happy life, and live independently for as long as possible. There are some simple steps you can take now to prepare for the years to come. It may be as simple as taking a walk or a yoga class, changing some things around your house, or just taking a break. Here, some ideas to consider:
1. Live in a place that’s workable and pleasant for older adults.
Perhaps the picturesque home you chose when you started your family isn’t so perfect anymore. The long and winding driveway that was once filled with bicycles and hopscotch games now represents a backbreaking day of shoveling snow. The large elm that provided shade and the perfect branch for a tire swing is now a reminder of endless raking. And the peaceful country road now seems hauntingly quiet.
Put cold winters in your rearview mirror and head for a place that’s sunny and warm year-round. Golf clubs and tennis rackets instead of shovels and rakes? Absolutely. And a morning walk along the beach is a great way to start the day.
Another alternative: College towns are becoming popular for retirees who prefer to trade a round of golf for the energy that students bring. There’s also the opportunity to keep the brain sharp by auditing a class — or even teaching one.
Check out some of theÂ best places to retireÂ to get ideas.
2. Make your home age-friendly by incorporating Universal Design.
Universal features make a home safer and easier to use for those who are aging, frail, or have activity limitations or disabilities. For example, you might create an entrance into the home without steps, or widen doorways and lower light switches to accommodate a wheelchair. Good lighting is helpful for people with poor vision. Other concepts include lever handles on doors, handrails in hallways, grab bars around the toilet, and a no-threshold shower. Need ideas? Use thisÂ Universal Design ChecklistÂ to find inspiration.
3. Hire in-home help when you need it.
Plan now to set aside resources for home helpers as you age. For example, you may want to hire a gardener to care for your yard, hire a housekeeper to clean your home, or bring in someone to help prepare meals and do the grocery shopping. When the time comes, bring in an aide in-home care agency to help with personal care, mobility, and getting around town when you need it.
4. Find a place to live independently, with some support.
Another option is to move — now, while you’re younger and healthier — to a community that’s specially set up for aging in place.
An over 55-active community, also called community, is a great option. Services can include not only medical care and social services but also resort amenities. A clubhouse with activities, meals, and social opportunities is a great asset, especially for those who are single.
Moving in when you’re younger and healthier is wise — you’ll be able to enjoy the activities, make friends, and make the community your home. If you can find an independent living community that’s connected to assisted living, even better — then supportive resources are there in case you should ever need them.
Another new trend is a NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities). In NORCs, a neighborhood or apartment building evolves over time to have a large concentration of older adults, who then organize to share services and support, creating a sense of community. Services include everything from healthcare and financial planning to legal advice and home renovations tailored to aging in place. NORCs are funded by the U.S. Department on Aging.
5. Stay fit and eat right.
Many medical professionals believe exercise may be the key to reducing your odds of developing dementia, diabetes, and heart disease. As you age, bones can become brittle, muscles shorten, and you may start to lose balance and coordination. Staying active helps keep the body flexible. Simple stretching routines will lengthen muscle tissue.
And as an added bonus, exercise lowers stress and boosts your mood. One way reduce boredom and keep you moving as you get older is to find exercise that doesn’t “feel like exercise”.
Finally, after that yoga class, reach for a healthy snack. Good nutrition will keep your body and mind healthy. Studies show that certain fruits and vegetables, like blueberries and broccoli, have the potential to ward off cancer and protect against heart disease and diabetes. They may even slow aging itself! Make sure to include plenty of super-healing in your diet.
About the Author
Judy Speicher is a writer forÂ Caring.com. Judy Speicher has worked for years as a radio reporter, anchor, producer, editor, and writer, in New York City. For related articles see:Â 7 Design Secrets for a House You Can Live in ForeverÂ and How NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities) Help Seniors Age in Place.