Aging is a funny thing. We act like it just sneaks up on us, all the while knowing its coming.

Right up there with financial retirement planning, needs to be your residential aging plan. You would think these two would go hand in hand however many folks don’t or won’t consider a residential plan as part of retirement planning. Our ego gets in the way and we can’t imagine our potential vulnerability or loss of independence at some point in our lives. We convince ourselves that our current homes will suit us just fine in our 70’s and beyond. My dad’s one of those guy’s. Part of his plan includes the famous “they’ll have to take me out of here feet first” clause. I’m encouraging him to consider a better plan.

Per Rodney Harrell, AARP’s housing expert, there are more than 100 million homes across the U.S. yet only about 1 percent of them are conducive to aging in place without doing some type of remodeling to accommodate the aging process. Meanwhile, 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, and more than 80 percent of those 65 and older say they want to stay in their homes.

Many of the clients I meet, had every intention of aging in place until some unexpected life event stepped in, changed their plans and their homes couldn’t accommodate them any longer. To these folks, a move becomes urgent. All of a sudden a lot of decisions have to be made, 50 plus years of accumulated stuff has to go somewhere quickly, family gets pulled in all directions to help or worse, there is no one to assist at all.

I feel blessed every day to have the opportunity to help the overwhelmed, overcome the hurdles of downsizing and transitioning but I’m here to tell you the process does not have to be a Hail Mary in the 4th quarter. Make a residential aging plan, be realistic about home improvements if considering aging in place. If you are sitting on the fence between community living and aging in place, at least start downsizing now. Did you know a typical “DIY” homeowner downsizing project can take 6 months to 1 year to prepare for a move? Yep, so ask your adult kids to get their stuff out, start gifting things to friends, don’t get a storage unit and seek professional help if you are overwhelmed!