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When the Kids Leave: Preparing to Live on Your Own Again

Your kids are young and dependent now. But eventually they’ll all leave the house to create new lives as adults. Although you secretly await the day when you become empty nesters, you could also be worrying about a future living on your own. As you age, expect a list of potential health issues as well security matters that come with living independently.

Your Options as an Aging Parent

You have multiple options when you don’t want to end up in a nursing home. Your home, naturally, is a good choice. Some 77 percent of elderly people prefer to age in place. When you age in place, you’ll feel better about living in a familiar setting. You’ll have more control over your personal life, retaining your freedom and independence. As a result, you’ll feel a greater sense of comfort and well-being.

But aging in place requires key preparations for your home to ensure your health and safety.  Certain rooms, for example, have to be fitted with hospital-grade systems that facilitate movement, like a ceiling track system. If you or your spouse were to develop a debilitating illness or get into an accident, lifting equipment makes caregiving manageable.

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Another key preparation is to ease movement around the home. Start with enhancing lights at entrances and pathways to prevent accidents when you get home late at night. Next, think about moving your bedroom on the first floor, so you don’t have to take the stairs each time. In the kitchen, redesign the shelves for ease of access and improve lighting for safety.

Another option is to look into retirement communities. This way, you don’t have to make adjustments to your home. Simply resell and use the money to fund a new property in an independent living community. These communities tend to be self-contained, so you’ll have everything you need within reach. You’ll also have access to fun amenities, from a tennis court and a golf course to a swimming pool and a spa center. And here’s the best part: you can get your chores done by a staff.

Fund Your Retirement

You can’t age well and in comfort without having enough money for your future. Only 28 percent of people in the US are able to save up for their retirement; 72 percent don’t have enough to live on in a month when they retire.

But how much is enough?

Some think they would need $1.7 million from their 401(k) to retire comfortably. But the amount will depend on your lifestyle (and inflation), your vision for your future, and your health. If you prefer to live modestly as you age but have to be in hospitals often, you may need more. A general rule, however, is to have about 80 percent of your pre-retirement income each year of your retirement.

Work with a financial planner to figure out a good strategy for not just figuring out how much you’ll need but also how you’ll achieve that plum retirement fund. One strategy may involve investing some of your salary in a health savings account or an individual retirement account plan, which comes with tax advantages.

Whatever strategy you end up with, the key is to plan right now. From keeping your home safe or choosing the right community to building your wealth, life after the kids can be your next best chapter.

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