Independence in Retirement – by Bill Storie

RH Weekly Cover

Volume 4 – Independence in Retirement

Most people, perhaps all people, seek a high level of Independence in their Retirement. This Series discusses the main elements of an independent life in retirement.

Issue #2 – Accommodation

Broadly speaking, people like their homes.

Maybe they would like a new carpet, or a paint job, or a new garden, but the “comforts of home” are sacrosanct to most people. “I like to get back to my own bed”. “I like my old armchair”. “I just like seeing my own door when I get home.”

Words to live by. Words we all live by. Words we really never want to stop saying.

So why is it that as we age, that people seem to think we would want to move out and downsize, or go live by the beach, or, even in the traumatic case of health issues, move to an old folks home..? We don’t. We’d rather see our final days out at our own home.

Some people call it the “stubbornness” of old people. But the truth is that it is simply a desperate craving for Independence.

The reality of living in our retirement years is that as long as we can afford the cost of our accommodation (owned or rented) then we will stay put. Hopefully we can do so without doing without other basics such as food, prescriptions, utilities and so forth. By the way, there’s no harm in downsizing, apart from the massive upheaval of throwing away years and years of accumulated “stuff”. If it allows you to free-up some property capital to assist in the cash flows along the line, then think about it. There’s perhaps little advantage to be gained by sitting in a 4-bedroom house when you are alone or just the two of you, when you could be liquidating its value.

Moving in with family is another issue considered by many.

“Come stay with us Mum. I’m sure Debbie will be all right with it”. (Did anyone ask Debbie ???)

Clearly if there are health concerns and you need daily assistance, then the family option is a serious consideration. If however, you just want company, then that too is fine… but …. once the novelty wears off, you may regret the move. Even your kids (and grandkids) have their daily routines and much as though you know them intimately, the fact is that those routines are theirs, not yours. Cost of accommodation may be an issue certainly, and if there is no alternative option then think about it ….. but think very carefully. It may be short-term bliss and long-term family feud.

Lastly, and worst case, if you are really in need of medical care and you need it constantly day over day, then the nursing home option needs to be considered. There’s no doubt that for many reasons, not just Independence, but emotions and nostalgia, this option is a very tough one. “Will I ever see my own home again?”

Not to be decided lightly, unless health is by far and away the ONLY issue to be considered. But even in poor health, the vast majority of us oldies will settle for drop-ins of doctors, nurses, food delivery, family and friends … IF we can sleep in our own bed.

These are just some considerations you may have about accommodation, but remember, your need for Independence can be reasonably expected to last for the rest of your life. You won’t have to rely on family, or Government, or charities etc. to take care of you financially (health may be a different matter). So give long-term thought to what is best for you taking all issues into consideration.

 

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