Okay, so besides having to convert your house into an aging in place wonder or finding a new home, you have to pay attention to the assets of community that surrounds you. AARP has come out with a Livability Index by which you may discover you are already in the wrong place regarding the basic tenets of an age friendly community. You can also utilize it to explore a community where you might relocate.
The thrust of this Index is to “drive community focus on independent living”. That is a good thing, but take this index with more than a grain of your own critical thinking skills. I used this index to to look at our old address as well as our current location. It contained some hidden truths and omissions. The score for our old address was higher than our current. That was because primarily the little shopping center that has a grocery store (with bank and pharmacy inside) and other businesses is 1.1 miles away not 1.0 miles away. Yes, there was better transportation walk-ability in the old neighborhood, but the index does not show you how congested it was or that a trip that used to take 5 minutes took 20 because of all the new construction.
I had taken a webinar last month that was titled, Towards Age Friendly Communities. I expected to hear innovative things that can be done to make it easier to stay in our homes. Its purpose rather, was to point out to local governments/ vested interests that having older citizens in the regular communities helps financially in terms of how much the older generation contributes in full and part time work (18.8% over age 65 work) , volunteer work for the community and as caregivers. We contribute more than millennials!
There we go again, first the object of affection of the longevity economy trying to guide us to retirement mega-plexes and now the trend is have us and our buying power stay in regular communities. It was positive in the sense of valuing us, but it did not do anything, for example on how do you make transportation for the can’t really drive much any more crowd, a no brainer. What about real estate tax reduction or giving rebates to the agencies that provide the best in home services?
The Index confirmed our good air, high opportunity in education, solid civic engagement , good health assets and yes we know it is more expensive in Maryland re basic housing costs. The caveat, however is that you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you will figure out that you can make up for some of the “negatives’ and stay where you are or find yourself a great place to live. Yes, if you want to move to that 8 acre farmstead, you will be making significant adjustments as you get older older. If you love the idea of being able to walk everywhere and have services and entertainment at your footsteps, you can make that work even in a three story townhouse.
What people need is to be able to afford to stay in their homes, be realistic about some modifications and their own limitations, and have access to flexible transportation arrangements so they can stay engaged in their communities. But go ahead, run the numbers on where you are, or where you might like to be. Remember location isn’t always everything, it is determination that also counts.