Maybe you want to stay in the family home, or maybe you’ve fallen in love with the retirement village or land lease home that you’ve downsized to. Either way, you’ve decided you won’t go into residential care when you get older: you’re going to age in place.

You’re not alone in this, of course: a 2019 survey by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) found that, depending on the age cohort, around 78% to 81% of Australians over 55 want to stay in their own homes as they age.

There are a number of factors to consider for ageing in place, however, and you’ll want to ask yourself at least the following questions:

  • Am I healthy? If you have any chronic illnesses like emphysema or diabetes, you should consult your doctor to see how they might continue to develop and affect you as you age. Even if you’re currently fit as a fiddle, remember that you’ll likely grow more frail as you get older, so you’ll want to make sure you keep up your health as best as you can.

  • How suitable is my house? If you’re in a retirement village or other seniors housing already, this will likely be less of a concern, as these homes are designed for older people. If not, however, you’ll probably need to think harder about your home: is it too big for you, or for you and your partner? Is it well-insulated? Are there stairs that could make it hard to navigate as you get older? How safe and accessible is the bathroom? Can you add mobility aids and remove obstacles for later in life?

  • Am I living in the right area? Can you stay in touch with family and friends here? Do you have a good support network – and if you are downsizing to a retirement village or other seniors housing to age in place there, will you have a good support network where you’re going? Is your area easy for you to get around? Are there good transport options, and how accessible are the places you’ll need to go? Is your neighbourhood safe?

  • What support will I need, and how will I get it? Particularly if you live alone, you’ll want to know who you can call on if you need help. Friends and family may be available, but don’t forget that as your care needs increase, the Government has assistance available in the form of the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) and Home Care Packages (HCPs). Professional carers can give you help with whatever you need, even if at first it’s only simple things like home maintenance, gardening, and shopping. Be sure to investigate home care providers in your area and find one that’s right for you.

It may take a lot of planning, but if you take it step by step, then you can stay in your own home – or whatever home you choose – and maintain as much independence as possible as you get older. Ageing in place may not be the life for everyone – but if it’s for you, then make sure it’s the best life it can be!