The key step to successful aging is rethinking how we house ourselves.
Most people buy homes and condos with an eye toward reselling them. This means we buy a home for the next person, not ourselves. We have to make sure the home is for us and is adequately prepared for things that might go wrong. Perhaps we should turn our home into our castles.
The surrounding space – the city and neighborhood – is equally as important as the house when you’re looking to support your needs and desires as you age. Think walkability, amenities and services, recreation, restaurants, and public places that you can reach easily and that will help you to stay connected with life, the community, and people.
Good idea: Yes, the best plans for aging can veer off course. Have a room with a view and make certain that your bedroom is a beautiful place, just in case it becomes your primary living space temporarily or for the long-term due to an illness or accident.
You know that loneliness and isolation are killers during old age, so strong human bonds are crucial to long-term happiness. Start building that social web now, not when you’re old and you desperately need it. Three ideas for finding relationships include:
1. Family. Think of your three best friends and start considering them your siblings. After all, the notion of family is evolving and it’s not just blood relatives who can be in our inner circle.
2. Colleagues. Leave a job and you often leave colleagues – those with like interests – behind. Why? Stay connected with them. They may become dear friends or they may be the people you tap when you have an idea for a new venture.
3. Neighbors. Robert Frost’s proverb, “Good fences make good neighbors” may not be a smart move. Schmooze with your neighbors. Turn them into friends.
Volunteering, offering to help others, exercising with friends, Skyping with loved ones, and creating a weekly communal dining experience at your favorite restaurant all help to nurture those relationships.
Innovation to the Rescue
The hope is that the human connections will help when life gets difficult. Conveniences and technologies also increasingly allow people to age better than previous generations have. Those include things like food delivery services, Uber, apps that help you stay active, and technology that can connect you to your doctor digitally. And as technology evolves, those innovations will only get better.
Good idea: Share a person. At some point, you may need help around the house, assistance with dressing or showering, or someone to do tasks once a week. However hiring a full-time person may be too costly or unnecessary. Why not gather together some friends and hire a professional that you can share?
So, no one is too young to create a vision for aging. Prepare your home and build your social network so you can craft a rich life and find an antidote to loneliness and adapt to the vagaries of old age.
And be sure that you’ll be living in your castle, not in a storage facility.
Arati Hammond is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist at Keller Williams Realty and a Luxury Home Specialist.
You can reach Arati Hammond at 772-342-5599 or