Retirees Need to Plan for a Support System

Figure out who can provide help if you need it in retirement.

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When we are young, it's difficult to think that we might need help someday. However, having reliable help available is one of the most important things retirees will need. Most people retire when they are still healthy and can take care of themselves in their 60s, but you need to plan for a time when you might need more support.

[See 5 Next-Generation Retirement Communities.]

We value our independent lifestyle in the U.S. The ultimate goal of retirement is to stop working and yet maintain the same lifestyle. This usually means staying in the same house and maintaining the same level of leisure activities. This retirement lifestyle might be workable in the beginning of retirement when you are still healthy, but it will not work indefinitely. This was made clear to me when one of my retired relatives fell, hit her head on concrete, and there was no one nearby to help her. Here are some ideas to set up the support you will need in retirement.

Multigenerational households. In other cultures including Asia and Latin America, retired parents usually live with their adult children, but this is rare in the U.S. In our mobile society, adult children do not always live in the same area as their parents, and many retirees are reluctant to uproot themselves. When a retiree gets older and needs more support, moving closer to family members is a workable solution.

[See How to Avoid a Nursing Home.]

Make friends. What if there are no kids or other family members that a retiree can depend on? Then retirees will need to find a good friend, so they can check on each other every day. Perhaps retirees can volunteer or work part time and find someone in a similar position.

Hire support. Another option is to rely on technology and hired help. It might be prudent to subscribe to a medical alarm system if you do not have an immediate support system. I would hate to pay for this unless I really had to, but it could be a necessity if you don't have friends or relatives nearby.

[See How to Find Affordable Long-Term Care.]

Group living. Cohousing is currently quite rare, but it may become more popular as the baby boomer generation retires. A cohousing building caters to community-minded residents who usually share many common rooms including a big communal kitchen, dining area, play room, and family room where residents can get together and socialize. This kind of community is much more close-knit and the neighbors will notice if you need help. These cohousing buildings also cater to young families and singles, and sometimes people with a mix of ages live in close proximity. Cohousing units generally have no staff and the residents take care of themselves and each other.

We all need some type of support system. It is a good idea to develop one that works for you while you are able to.

Joe Udo is planning an exit strategy from his corporate job by reducing expenses and increasing passive income. He blogs about his journey to early retirement at Retire by 40.