Johnson Lyman Wealth Advisors

For many, aging in one’s home is not a viable, long-term solution. Although your home has probably served you well over the years, its living space may present challenges as you age (e.g., stairs or even its location relative to shopping and other necessary services). Additionally, as circumstances will undoubtedly change in your social network over time (such as trusted friends moving away), continuing to live in your home can more easily lead to isolation. If a Solo Ager’s choice of residential living has built-in ways to interact with others and to provide for community engagement, it can provide an environment that allows a Solo to stay involved with others, not become isolated, and maintain good long-term mental health.

This post presents some of the available long-term living options that Solo Agers should proactively consider in order to make the best choice for their long-term residential living situation. Often, Solo Agers decide to transition their living arrangement to one more conducive to graceful aging over time.

Age in Place / Relocation

Modifying your home or relocating to a safer style of home (one level, fewer square feet, closer to age-friendly appointments) is, for many Solos, the best perceived option. It might be a condominium or apartment complex near shopping and services, a smaller, one-level home in a 55+ (also called Active Adult) community (see below), or a mobile home park. All these options provide far more opportunities to befriend neighbors and build community than a single-family home in an isolated suburb. Depending on the choice, you may be able to cash out some of the equity in your primary residence to help support future living expenses. However, this aging in place option can also engender isolation for Solo Agers. If a Solo needs care assistance later in life, this option can also be the most expensive one with regards to bringing in support.

Auxiliary Dwelling Units (ADUs)

A related option to aging in place is the construction of an auxiliary dwelling unit (ADU), which are allowed in a growing number of locations across the country. An ADU is a separate dwelling erected on the property of an existing home owned by a Solo Ager. The possibilities inherent in this setup include the installment of a variety of potential co-habitants who can offer various forms of assistance that can extend the Solo’s stay in their home (e.g., another Solo, a younger family member, household help and companionship, or a caregiver).

Reduced rent for the occupant – often someone younger and frequently skilled in elder care – in exchange for household help, companionship, or age-specific needs such as assistance with
Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) can all add up to a mutually agreeable solution to the challenge of aging with grace and freedom.

Shared Housing

Whether you live in a home you might share with others or are willing to move into a home with others, home sharing – a la The Golden Girls – is turning out to be the right answer for increasing numbers of Solo Agers. There are matching services, like Silvernest and Senior Homeshares that can facilitate an arrangement anywhere in the country. Another great resource is the American Seniors Housing Association. This option fills space in a room (financial) but can also fill space in your life (community).

Cohousing or Intentional Communities

If you are interested in living with a group of other people sharing your values, cohousing or an intentional community might be right for you. These communities are built from a group of people who have chosen to live together with a common purpose, working cooperatively to create a lifestyle that reflects their shared core values. Check out The Cohousing Association (CohoUS) for more info.

Senior Retirement Communities or Active Adult Communities

Active Adult Communities are generally for those aged 55 or older, and generally have no built-in health services. However, they are great to help build and maintain community, which is a critical component of healthy aging. This option provides ready-made community.

Life Plan Communities or Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Life Plan Communities often have multiple types of independent living options (apartments, condos, detached residences), along with multiple levels of care available (memory unit, skilled nursing, etc.). Sizes vary greatly, from fewer than 25 units to upwards of 500, and all employ skilled workers who are available on an as-needed basis. A range of activities and amenities are provided.

Generally, these communities charge a substantial initial fee (contract-based or real estate buy-in), and ongoing monthly fees, with a portion of all fees deductible as pre-paid, deductible healthcare costs. These communities provide a high level of ongoing support but are also one of the most expensive options.

Working with a financial planner versed in making such decisions can help determine the feasibility of making this type of move. For example, our fiduciary wealth management firm helps Solo Agers assess their residential options as part of our Solo Aging Support System.

Communities have their own personality, so interested Solos can pick a like-minded community. You can find more detailed information on these communities here and here is an expansive reference on CCRCs.

Which Option Is Right for You?

Life comes with challenges at both ends of the spectrum and in between as well. It is comforting, however, to know that in our modern era there are so many options and resources from which to choose, especially as it relates to the quality of one’s later years.

Our firm, Johnson Lyman Wealth Advisors, works with Solo Agers using a comprehensive Solo Aging Support System that we’ve created and fine-tuned by working with many Solo Agers over the years. Part of this framework is to support you in evaluating residential living options, both from a lifestyle and financial perspective.

Schedule a call with us to discuss your concerns and how our Solo Aging Support System can help.

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1 Website: CDSS Programs | Community Care Licensing | Continuing Care | Laws and Regulations, 2022 California Department of Social Services.
This material was prepared by Johnson Lyman Wealth Advisors from information derived from sources believed to be accurate. This information should not be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice.


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