If you or your parents are not yet ready, this is a time to start thinking about it.
There is a paradox when we talk about LONGEVITY: the greater success we have achieving it, the greater the challenge it creates for the future. When the United States was founded, life expectancy stood at about 35 years. By 1900, it had grown to 47 years; in 1950, 68 years; and in 1991, 76 years. Now, once a person reaches age 67, a woman can expect 19 more years and a man 17.4 years.
That is a lot of time to be ‘retired.’ So what will the world offer Boomers as they shift from gainful employment to retirement?
Why should you care?
The world is changing as its population continues to age. And, the costs of services are increasing as we slowly emerge from years of economic decline, which has affected the pocketbooks of many. Many families no longer live in close proximity, so parents cannot rely upon the children to drop everything to plunge a plugged toilet or to share a cup of coffee.
Can you afford to retire?
» Those lucky enough to have retirement savings sufficient to see them through 20 years or more have the luxury to retire and take advantage of all the options available to them.
» Many, though, will not be so lucky or will feel it’s just too early to retire and will continue working. According to “The United States of Aging Survey 2013” conducted by the National Council on Aging:
»Among those still employed full or part-time, the majority (69%) say they are still working to bring in income; they also cite productivity (76%) and enjoyment (70%) as reasons.
»15% of respondents are not so confident that their finances will last through retirement.
»One-third said they are financially unprepared for the costs of long-term care.
»Some are retiring from their current professions and starting encore careers, finally reaching to attain long neglected dreams.
Where and how could you live?
Many parents are deciding to move to be close to the kids, prompting the rising popularity of what is called the Granny Pod, a prefab apartment attachment to a present home.
Some have decided not to leave the neighborhood and their house, which is causing the Village Movement to sprout up in locations around the country. Villages offer members a network of resources, services, programs and activities that revolve around daily living needs (i.e., transportation, computer assistance, grocery shopping, light home maintenance, etc.); social, cultural and educational programs; ongoing health and wellness activities; and member-to-member volunteer support. They enhance the lives of their members by facilitating social connections and access to support services that allow members to remain active and engaged in their communities as they grow older. Villages are focal points for their members — with one phone call, they can obtain information and guidance, access to services and programs and assistance in navigating the confusing maze of long-term services and supports that typically exists in most communities.
If you need or want to give up the house but don’t want to live with your kids and want to move into retirement apartments, you might consider shared housing/co-housing. This is where a group shares a property, living in condos or attached homes clustered together, and shares some weekly dinners, upkeep, outdoor space and facilities.
Still, many are attracted to moving into a retirement apartment or Continuing Care Retirement Community. These communities relieve worries about the upkeep of the house. They offer the socialization needed to enjoy life. And, they give the comfort that staff members are on the ready to assist if something should happen to your health or that of your spouse. But these are also evolving as the wishes of a changing demographic change. There’s no such thing as “business as usual.”
Technology is beginning to play a greater role. Some places are experimenting with robots to check on safety, assist with memory losses and help with other duties. You’ll start to see many with sensors monitoring for falls. Many will be able to cater to individual wants and wishes, the ultimate concierge service. Already communities are going wireless and the use of computers for communication is being tested. You will see telemedicine get to the point where you can communicate directly with your medical team via your iPad in the privacy of your own apartment. Because of these trends, seniors will live much longer in their retirement apartments, postponing the need for assisted living or skilled nursing.
How should I get started?
Your options as you look for yourself or your parents are as many as are the resources at hand. The members of the Presbyterian Association of Homes and Services for the Aging are available to help guide you through this journey. Our members are experts in the field and very innovative in the way they provide services. You can find one in your area by going to the website at pahsa.org. Remember to consult the web for additional resources, such as leadingage.org/choosing_a_provider.aspx
Greg Carlson is executive director of Partnered and Affiliate Boards for Presbyterian Homes & Services, based in Roseville, Minnesota. He serves on the PAHSA Board of Directors.