For Older Adults, Where To Live Is A Complicated Question; A New Book Rides To The Rescue
As we march through the decades, the question of where to live is generally determined by where our family resides, where we go to school, who hires us, and where we want to raise our kids. When that’s all behind us, what then? Do we stay put in our big suburban homes or our three-story urban townhouses or do we seek out a place that could be more supportive of our older lifestyle? This is the question of the hour for most people in their 60s and beyond. It’s the question many of my clients were struggling with when I was doing retirement coaching. Now there is a resource for sorting through all the potential options so you can make an informed decision. Right Place Right Time, written by Ryan Frederick, is just the book we need to guide us through the positives and negatives of whatever options we are considering…and maybe some we haven’t considered before.
Surely, no one wants to play hit-and-miss with where to spend those older years, because ‘place’ is the key to successful living as we age. We want to get it right. Ryan reminds us in the beginning of the book that Americans are living much longer lives than ever before. Life expectancy has risen dramatically since 1950,when most people succumbed before they reached the age of 70. Today, despite a slight dip in the numbers in 2020, thanks to the pandemic, most people can expect to live into their 80s and beyond. More Americans are living to 100+ every year. In fact, as Ryan reminds us, many financial planners are using a lifespan of 100 years to calculate how long our money will last. I guess we better keep working!
The pandemic has had a huge impact on all of us, no matter our current age. More than anything, the actions we have been taking to protect ourselves from Covid-19 infection have meant greater isolation and loneliness for many. It has shed a whole new light on where and how we live. The question of how to plan for the future has taken on even greater urgency for many and definitely added some new factors into our decision making.
The Importance of Community
Aging-in-place has been studied since the 1980s and became a popular and well-used term when AARP cited a study that more than 75% of older adults wanted to stay where they are as they get older. Ryan writes about aging in place at some length, discussing its merits, as well as how to make aging in place easier and more do-able. He also talks about the challenges inherent in staying in a home that is likely 40+ years old. What I like best about his treatment of this highly sensitive topic is that he talks about it in the context of living in a community. He asks the hard questions about whether your home is truly part of a community–or not, and reminds us that in the end it’s community that matters more than geographic location.
One of the enticing components of Right Place Right Time is Ryan’s devotion to the idea that community matters. He encourages us to swap out the term “aging” with “living,” calling our attention to how living connotes the idea of soaking up all the opportunities at hand, while aging may conjure up a picture of passivity or waiting to die. Does that spark a note of truth to you?
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Covering all the Options
Few stones are left unturned in this comprehensive book. For those who are a little fuzzy on all the many options for choosing the best place to live out your life–or even for the next step in life–Ryan reviews all the options available today, from single-family housing to apartment living to the many senior living options. He also describes many of the new concepts in housing: cohousing, tiny homes, and home sharing (a la “The Golden Girls” TV show). In addition, Ryan discusses evolving technologies which will make our homes better connected, for social purposes as well as health and wellness.
In the end, determining the right place to live as older adults is a personal and individual decision. There is no universal, best choice for all of us. Our family connections, our finances, our interests, our marital status, and whether or not there are people in our support system who will watch over us are all important considerations and Ryan covers all of these in Right Place Right Time.