Planning for a Better Later Life

January marks the beginning of a new year. It is a time when people often resolve to make changes in their lives. Traditionally these resolutions are not very long lived, falling by the wayside weeks, days, or even hours after they are embarked upon. I think that this is because they are most often things that we would like to do, not things that we have actually resolved to do. I suggest that rather than making New Years resolutions to do certain things in our lives, we make plans to do them instead. Planning is a powerful tool to accomplish great things in our lives. It has been said that if we fail to plan, we are actually planning to fail.
I am going to talk in particular about planning a better later life. Many people are hesitant to think about getting older and the challenges it brings, preferring instead to stick their heads in the sand. When the first attempt to make adaptations for later life occurs after a fall or other crisis, there is no time for planning, only reaction. The vast majority of Americans, when questioned, state that they would prefer to live out their days in their own homes. This idea, also known as Aging in Place, is an idea whose time has come. A number of us here in the Roanoke Valley and beyond belong to the Western and Central Virginia Chapter of the National Aging in Place Council. As part of its ongoing effort to help people successfully age in place, the council has developed a planning guide to help people work through the steps to planning a better later life. The guide covers the five core areas that are essential to successful aging in place which are:

• Housing
• Health and Wellness
• Personal Finance
• Transportation
• Community and Social Interaction

The planning guide contains a questionnaire in each of these categories to guide you in objectively determining what your needs, resources, and challenges are in each of these areas. I encourage you to take the time to go through these sections thoroughly, do it early, and have a family member or trusted advisor who knows you well go through it with you to get a more objective result. At the end of each section, there is room to write down your needs in that core area. At the end of the guide, there is a page to summarize your needs and make a list of your priorities in creating a living environment that will help make your later years safe, comfortable and enjoyable. Finally, there is a place to list the things you can do yourself and the things you need help with. At the Aging in Place Council we have professionals who can help you get the help you need in each of these core areas, whether you need home modifications, home care, legal advice, financial assistance, medical help, transportation, or a myriad of other services. The planning guide is available for download at my website which can be found at www.seniorremodelingexperts.com or if you would like a copy mailed to you, call me at 540-384-2064.
If I have impressed upon you the value of planning for a better later life, and you have questions, please give me a call. I will be speaking at various events throughout the coming year. Two that are coming up this month are The Greater Roanoke Home and Garden Show at the Berglund Center on January 13-15 and the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce Networking Breakfast on January 27 (contact the Chamber at 540-387-0267 for more information).