What do you need to age in place?
Given this fact, it seems as though the first question you should ask when deciding where you want to retire is: “Where can I most easily age in place?”
It is a question that, unfortunately, is not very easy to answer.
Aging in place doesn’t mean simply being able to remain in your own home for the rest of your life. It means being able to continue to live in your home and remain an active part of your community for as long as you want to.
According to new report from the Stanford Center on Longevity and the MetLife Mature Markets Research Institute, there are a few community factors that are essential to furthering the goal of aging in place:
- A variety of housing options that are affordable and accessible, so that aging adults can more easily receive visitors and, if necessary, professional in-home caregivers.
- A robust transportation network that includes: a range of public transportation options, neighborhoods that are walkable, and roads that are relatively safe to travel.
- Easy access to different healthcare options, including: doctors, hospitals and preventive care initiatives, as well as caregiving services, such as adult day care, home health care and meals-on-wheels.
- Ability to acquire healthful food from both grocery stores and local restaurants, preferably within easy walking distance from the person’s primary residence.
- Programs that provide aging adults with the opportunity to engage with the greater community. Examples include: universities and colleges, volunteer organizations, libraries, religious organizations, etc.
That last bullet-point is especially important. A community with more varied opportunities for engagement is more likely to appeal to the multitude of baby boomers that are used to being active members of their local community.
Of course, the above list doesn’t encompass every consideration of those who are at, or nearing retirement age. Each individual also needs to take into account the factors that are unique to their situation.
For example, you may want to live close to your adult children and their families (or you may want to go somewhere far, far away). Your financial situation may allow you to live anywhere you want, or it may narrow your list of options considerably.
There’s no right answer; no magical list that can point out the ideal retirement situation for you. You may be able to use these registers to get some inspiration and insight into areas of the country that you don’t know a lot about, but the choice on where to live out your “golden” years is ultimately an individual one.
What are you looking for in your ideal retirement community? What will be the deciding factor that will determine where you settle down after you officially leave the work force?