Insurance and home modifications key to independent living

While they may not be the most exciting factors to consider as we enter later life, choosing the right health insurance and making home modifications could save costs in the long run and help an aging population to lead a more independent life for longer.

You would hope that your outgoings reduce as you get older. For instance, maybe you will have paid off your mortgage, your children will have finished university and you will no longer be paying to commute to work.


Longevity.Technology: However, other costs can soon creep in as you age. There could be small costs such as extra heating if you feel the cold more, or larger costs such as the extra expense of living alone, extra care costs if you need additional help or the cost of making changes to your home if needed. 


That’s why it can be vital to ensure you have the right insurance and plans in place to make sure you can help yourself to live a happier, more independent life for as long as possible, which could potentially increase your healthspan as well as your wealthspan.

Kris Lindahl, CEO of Kris Lindahl Real Estate told us: “I think it’s important for people to know their options, and — in many cases — how much work might be involved in retrofitting a house or building to their current or future needs (and whether or not it would be realistic to do so). Overall, my goal with this is to help people make informed decisions.”
Lindahl’s company have released a very helpful guide on avoiding trips and falls.


There can be inequalities when it comes to accessing the best healthcare and insurance plans. In the US, for example, many Americans believe that by the age of 65, Medicare will relieve the cost pressure of their health insurance plans. Choosing the wrong Medicare plan can lead to significant financial problems later in life, and can be particularly tricky for people who may have additional healthcare needs.


However, there is a growing appetite to develop better insurance and financial solutions for the elderly. Recently, for example, the AARP Innovation Labs and End Well Foundation chose digital health company Trusty.Care, which was founded with the specific aim of supporting LGBTQ elders to manage their medial costs, as the winning start-up in a US-wide contest in which startups put forward ideas to help transform the experiences of aging, illness and caregiving in America. [1]


Trusty.Care was founded two years ago by Joseph Schneier to provide health insurance brokers with a platform so they can help consumers to choose the best plan to minimize out-of-pocket costs which can occur in later life.
 


 

 

“Most of us approach retirement thinking Medicare will cover us and it will be okay, but it’s a major risk area …”

 


 
“Most of us approach retirement thinking Medicare will cover us and it will be okay, but it’s a major risk area,” said Schneier. “We decided to build a platform used by insurance brokers and others to assess the risk to older adults of incurring out of pocket costs and match them up with the right product for the most coverage at the least risk based on the individual’s preference.”


He added: “People are surprised to see that health care costs are the second largest expense for seniors and the least able to be controlled,” pointing out that bankruptcy is “growing fastest among older adults, and almost always because of healthcare costs.”


Most people want to remain in their own home for as long as possible [2] and making changes to their home can help them to do so. However, another associated – and often very significant cost for the elderly – can be making home modifications. 


Such modifications can include installing ramps, widening doorways, installing a stair lift, making sure light switches are easily accessible, removing trip hazards or moving your master suite to the ground-floor level so you don’t have to climb stairs.

Lorraine Morley from Allia
Dr Lorraine Morley


In our interview this week with Dr Lorraine Morley, she told us: “I don’t think many people have really considered what life will be like when they get older. Aging is a problem that is going to affect all of us, but for the upcoming generations, it’s likely to happen without the safety net of funded social and community care which is reducing in nearly all countries.”

Investment in technology to help older people live in their homes for longer can encourage independence and foster safety, as demonstrated by some of the technological solutions that we have showcased before. 


For instance, the home behaviour monitoring firm Kemuri has created smart power sockets which are fitted with sensors to keep track of motion, power consumption and temperature, which can help to track any changes in an older person’s behaviour which could be cause for concern. Meanwhile there were myriad devices shown at CES 2020 which could play a key part in future independent living improvements, including a medication dispenser, a robotic exoskeleton to augment hand function and a smart cushion. 


Utilising currently available home modifications and technology and investing in future innovation could lead to increased independence for longer for an aging population. 
Financial planner and MD of Colorado-based Innovative Financial, points out: “What not everyone considers is that you can save money by doing the right home modifications. The longer you can safely live in your home, the less you will need to pay for assisted living care, something that is not cheap.” [3]


[1] https://bit.ly/348uusw
[2] https://bit.ly/2Q1gNmF
[3] https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/home-modifications-aging-in-place/

 

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

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