Retirement: Aging in Place and Traveling
Does your retirement vision include having the freedom to explore the world around you (near and far) largely free of the obligations of work, while independently aging in place and continuing to be an active part of your home community?
(Older Couple Photo: Katarzyna Grabo via Unsplash)
By comfortably aging in place for as long as you can safely do so, you’ll be better able to conserve finances and focus on all the other places you want to visit in the world, knowing you’ll have a safe and welcoming home to return to.
There are of course more resources available to make this goal practical for older adults and seniors, than at almost any other time in history. Alongside the advances in medicine that are keeping the population healthier and more independent, you also have the advantage of accessible technology that assists aging in place AND activities abroad. However, one of your most useful tools is simply taking the time to make adequate plans for your future.
Prepare Your Home for So You Can Age in Place
In order to put yourself into the best possible position to have a truly independent later life, you need to put some advanced effort into your environment. Your ability to remain in the comfortable and familiar surroundings that you’ve made your home for so long can be dependent upon your making it a suitable place to overcome the challenges you’ll face as you grow older. Not to mention your travel plans will be more enjoyable if you can prevent becoming injured in your home. This process doesn’t necessarily have to happen all at once, nor does everything have to be a major renovation. You can adapt your home as you age. However, it can be useful to review your needs as early as possible so that you can produce a schedule and budget accordingly.
Some areas to consider include:
Entry and Exit
It might not seem to be one of the most obvious areas, but the entrance and exit points can often present difficulty as you age. Review how accessible your home is from the outside – do you have to climb stairs to your apartment, or are elevators available? Even just a couple of steps leading from your drive to your door can present a trip hazard, or present difficulty if you have a wheelchair or walker. Consider whether it might be wise to install a ramp, and even widen the doorways in order to make access easier even if you are just bringing in groceries.
Part of your continued ability to live comfortably at home is ensuring that you are always able to see where potential obstacles lay. Many older adults and seniors get poorer eyesight as they age (macular degeneration and glaucoma are common causes), so it’s important to take steps to mitigate problems. Consider updating the lighting in your home to ensure they always provide clear, bright light – you can install dimmer switches to easily adjust these to the time of day. Installing lights in closets, and under cabinets can help maximize visibility in dark spaces and floors.
One thing to keep in mind here is the opportunity to travel while you make home renovations – that way, you don’t have to live in the house surrounded by noise and dust, and you can come back home to exciting new changes!
Understand and Communicate the Challenges
In order to undertake a rich life of travel while you age in place, it’s important to take ownership of the challenges you may face at home and abroad. This doesn’t mean to say that you need to go about the process without any assistance whatsoever. However, by seeking to gain a deeper understanding of your challenges, you have the power to arrange solutions and overcome obstacles.
Periodically take time to audit the current state and direction of your health, and the activities that can be difficult as a result. The fact of this isn’t always easy to accept, but in order to make plans to overcome areas of difficulty, it’s vital to be honest with yourself about their extent. If you have recently received a new medical diagnosis or had an accident, speak to your doctor about what this can mean for your living and travel aspirations, and what precautions it is sensible to take. Further, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and your health if you feel like you’re not receiving the care you need or deserve.
You’ll likely be able to handle and prepare for a large proportion of your ongoing medical and mobility issues by yourself. Ensure that you have adequate medication or assistance tools. Be aware of your limitations and when you need to take a break. However, there also needs to be times that you take the time to confidently communicate your needs to transportation workers, accommodation providers, activities coordinators, and people in your local community. The more you can understand your changing needs as you grow older, the more able you will be to suggest solutions, and have a direct hand in how you address issues.
We live in an age that is increasingly reliant on technology. While this can be fascinating, there are certainly moments where it can all feel quite complex and overwhelming. The truth is that such developments are unlikely to halt any time soon. As such, in order to stay independent while traveling or at home, you need to make efforts to stay relatively well informed.
From a financial perspective, your travels abroad can benefit from doing research beforehand. This should include how to best protect yourself from fraud, and how to use tools such as banking apps to stay on top of expenses and setting alerts. You should also stay abreast of what types of charges you’ll experience using your credit cards in different countries. Some countries may even have minimum transactions for card purchases, so this can help inform your choices of how much cash to carry around with you, too. The key is to arm yourself with enough knowledge to give you the confidence to enjoy your life.
Aging in place and retirement travel are both key elements in leading a rich and fulfilling life for seniors and older adults, and they tie into each other in more ways than one. To comfortably do one, you have to be comfortably doing the other. It is important to gain insights into your potential challenges and make plans for adjustments to your activities, travels, and home that can empower you to act independently. As always, a commitment to educating yourself helps to keep you well prepared.
*This article is for general informational purposes only. 50+ World does endorse any product or service providers, nor does it receive remuneration from them. Obtain expert medical, legal, or financial advice from a qualified practitioner about your unique situation.*