2-Age in place or someplace else? Who decides?

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Let’s say you live alone and love your home. You want to age in place—to stay there for as long as possible. The question is who decides when it’s no longer possible? You or your family?

When you realize your health is failing or grocery shopping and cooking have become chores, you may be the one to bring up the subject. If you don’t spot the signs or just don’t want to face them, your adult children will have to do it. This can be an emotional conversation. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you have this talk.

Have tasks that used to be easy become more difficult? Do you sometimes forget to turn off the stove or water faucets? Is your home becoming an obstacle course of clutter? And most alarming, are you experiencing frequent falls? Falling is frightening, but it’s also a wake-up call.

Perhaps you realize that you could use some help. What kind of help and how much of it you need ranges from having someone come in to clean once a week to downsizing your belongings and moving into an assisted living facility. In between those two extremes are a great many options. For example, there are not-for-profit organizations and government agencies that are devoted to providing a wide range of help to senior citizens.

If remaining in your own home is not the safest option, what are your other choices and how can you be a part of making this important decision? One of the most desirable possibilities is a retirement community that would allow you to move from independent living to assisted living to long-term care, depending on your needs. While this is a great solution, it is also expensive.

Another possibility you should think through carefully before you decide to give it a try is moving in with your adult children. For some older people this works very well, but be aware of a number of potential stumbling blocks. Be sure to clarify expectations—theirs and yours. This is not an easy conversation to have, but it is an essential one. The fewer surprises for both of you, the better.

Change is never easy, but it’s important to have your wishes heard and respected as you adjust to the changes inherent to rethinking your living arrangements.