Evidence clearly shows that people live longer and more independently into old age when they are living somewhere appropriate to their needs.
Three nationwide Coronavirus lockdowns and numerous local Covid restrictions have given people, particularly older people, an uncomfortable opportunity to look seriously at where and how they are living. Is your home still right for you? Will it be appropriate for you for the rest of your days, and if not, when would be the best time to move? What about moving closer to family? Would it be better to be within easy reach of the shops and facilities?
If you throw into the mix questions of how long you can safely drive your car; the availability of accessible public transport or a taxi service; proximity to a good GP surgery and whether local help with cleaning and gardening can be found, then the combination of all the variables can be bewildering. And that’s before you start to look at the lifetime’s possessions you have accumulated and ask yourself what on earth you are going to do with all your stuff if you move to somewhere smaller.
It is not surprising that many people get this far and no further. It is so tempting to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that this doesn’t concern them. With the rise in easily available equity release mortgages, many people look only at releasing money and forget to think carefully about long-term practical matters.
So, where do you start?
It is best to begin by making an honest appraisal of your current home and try to imagine what your health and mobility is likely to be in five or ten years’ time. Your physical environment can have an enormous positive or negative impact on your ability to maintain your control and independence. Making sure that your home promotes your well-being is crucially important.
Have a slow walk around every room in your home and think about the future. Consider all the steps in your home, not just the stairs; think about your bathroom; do you have a shower that you could get into if you found steps difficult? Is the toilet easy to get to? Think about tight corners and whether your kitchen would be easy to use if you found bending down hard; is your home affordable to heat properly? How easy it is for you reach plugs and switches? Do you have overloaded sockets or trailing electric flexes?
How safe is your home for you? Falls can be devastating for older people and can have life-changing consequences resulting in loss of independence, mobility and, often, your home. Many falls are entirely preventable but they represent the biggest single reason why older people go into care. One in three people over the age of 65 will die within a year of a fall resulting in a hip fracture. Isn’t it worth taking a little time and trouble now to prevent the preventable and give yourself the very best chance to remain independent and in control?
Ask yourself how much physical and mental effort is needed to run your home and garden? Are you going to be able to continue to do that successfully as you get older? Do you want to? Not everyone has to move to somewhere more manageable. Homes can certainly be adapted, risks minimised, and help found to run house and garden. However, if the changes are too many, the risks too great and the prospect of finding and keeping reliable, trustworthy help difficult, or you simply don’t want the responsibility of running a home that is larger than you need, then perhaps you do need to think about moving somewhere more suitable. If you come to this conclusion, then don’t wait for a crisis to hit. Get it done now so you can start enjoying the results. It is amazing how often we hear “I should have done this years ago” when we have helped our clients move to the right place.
So, whilst the past year might have been frightening, isolating or uncomfortable, it has brought us all time to reflect and consider how we want to live in future. It has also brought unexpected benefits. Communities have come together, neighbours have rallied round, people have volunteered in their thousands and, perhaps because we have all become so much better at washing our hands, incidents of the winter vomiting bugs, Norovirus etc., have fallen by a staggering 85% .
The benefits of living in the right place at the right time are immense and indisputable. Getting there may pose challenges, but these fade into insignificance when set against the rewards.
 Housing for older people 2018: Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee UK Parliament
 GOV.UK Public Health Matters: The human cost of falls Kevin Fenton Blog 2014
 Routine Norovirus and Rotavirus Surveillance in England 2020 to 2021 season – data to week 52, 2020