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
Adapting your home for 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
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 www.moh.govt.nz . If a disability is the result of an accident-related injury, talk to the Accident Compensation Corporation or see www.acc.govt.nz
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 http://www.ratespostponement.co.nz/
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.