Strategies on staying in your own home
Most older people choose to stay in their own homes. Here are strategies you can put in place now to help make this happen.
Thinking ahead and preparing for older age is part of ‘positive ageing’. It helps you to anticipate and meet changing needs in a planned way, and keeps you in control of decisions that affect you. Communicating your plans to loved ones is also important.
Many older people prefer to stay put.
A neighbourhood lived in for many years may contain established social networks and support. Staying put lets people maintain existing social contacts, community involvement, and to access support when it is needed. A home contains a life history of experiences, is a place to feel safe and secure, and familiar surroundings can make the adaptations that come with ageing easier.
But staying put can bring issues later, for example your health needs might change and the house may no longer seem suitable. There may be maintenance worries, or you may be far from family but need more support.
Adapting your future needs
If you are planning renovations to your home, incorporate ‘universal design’ features such as a wet area shower, raised sockets, and cupboards at practical heights. Consider how these would enhance your home not only now but also in the future if your sight or mobility changes.
Click here for more information on adapting your home for future needs.
If you have a disability now, funding for housing modifications may be available through the Ministry of Health. Look for ‘disability funded services’ on the Ministry of Health website. If a disability is the result of an accident-related injury, talk to the Accident Compensation Corporation or see their website.
House and garden maintenance
Maintenance can become a problem if you become less able to DIY, live alone or have financial pressures. It pays to explore all the options and anticipate what may need doing on your home in the future.
Many local Age Concerns provide advice and contacts for reliable tradespeople and home services.
Concerns about garden maintenance are commonly cited as reasons for moving. Think outside the square: could you rent out your garden, or perhaps there is someone who’d love the opportunity to look after the garden for themselves and in return give you some of the produce.
Rates a problem? Some people are eligible for a rates rebate. Also a very small number of councils offer rates postponement schemes through a commercial lender – ask your council or see this website.
Warm, dry and energy efficient homes
It is important for your health, comfort and pocket that your home is warm, dry and uses energy efficiently. You can get help with the Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart programme.
This government-funded subsidy can help pay for approved insulating materials and approved installers to make older (pre-2000) houses healthier and warmer. One-third of the total cost up to $1300 (incl GST) is available as a subsidy.
Homeowners with Community Services Card can get up to 60% of the total cost paid for them, with no upper limit. Some regions may offer more – ask your provider what they offer. An extra $500 ($1200 in some cases) is available for clean heaters.
Share your home with others
Have you considered living with others or flatting in older age? The advantages include opportunities to share cooking and gardening, or splitting the costs of hiring household help.
Continuing to make new friends whatever your stage of life is a good strategy for positive ageing.
Know what support will be available
Although older people continue to live independently, some people need assistance. There are now many innovative community services to support people to live at home, maintain independence and continue with the activities they enjoy. Subsidised services may be available and depend on having an assessment from a Needs Assessment and Service Coordination agency.