10 Steps to Sustainable Home-Based Retirement

age in place scott fulton

Plan for What is Difficult While it is Easy, do What is Great While it is Small.

~Sun Tzu

10 Steps to Sustainable Home-Based Retirement

by Scott Fulton

Why do the vast majority of Americans struggle with retirement when faced with their first real health challenge? There’s a long list of emotional and lifestyle reasons, but for most, it simply comes down to a failure to plan. We all know this translates to a plan to fail. It is a growing issue that crosses all socioeconomic boundaries and is a product of the culture we worked so hard to build over past several decades.

Boomers enjoyed one of the most productive and transformative times in history, attaining significantly more affluent lifestyles than any generation before. Understandably, most have entered retirement filled with confidence that our retirement will be superior to any generation before us. And why not? People are living longer, medical science advancements rescue more people from the clutches of death every year, pharmaceutical companies continue to develop lifesaving drugs, fresh produce is abundant on the grocery shelves year-round, and convenience places the world at our fingertips. On the surface it appears we’ve paved a yellow brick road to the ultimate retirement lifestyle.

Late-life protracted morbidity vs extending our prime years

Life has a habit of grounding us, and rising rates of disease and cancer point to serious
underlying issues. The science and medical communities have been steadily peeling back the layers, learning more about how we got to this point, and in many cases, the mine fields in which we’re finding ourselves. It turns out that life expectancy gains from the medical world are largely about late-life protracted morbidity vs extending our prime years. The drugs that address one disease, demand more drugs to treat the side effects and place us on a dependency trajectory, nearly impossible to escape. And it turns out those perfect looking fruit and vegetables are laced with pesticides from industrialized farming, to say nothing of the processed foods that are at the heart of “convenience” rank highest in threats to human health. Convenience has led to more sedentary lifestyles at earlier and earlier ages, to the point where companies make billions off devices that measure how many steps, we take each day, in efforts
to address our need to find motivation to get up off the chair.

Our house designs stand frozen in time for over 200 years, with all the focus on reducing maintenance vs adapting sustainable designs for generations who now live twice as long with greater frailty and less mobility. And so, we see the market flooded with band aid fixes that are about as appealing as a band aid on our nose. It’s no wonder “accessibility” conjures up images of ugly wooden ramps and institutional atmospheres.

I routinely poll audiences at speaking events to assess how well they understand their own economic Aging-in-Place plan. And while most are pretty good at knowing the current market value of their stock portfolio, fewer than 10% have any idea what independent or assisted-living housing costs are in their area and are shocked to learn it’s often about twice what they assumed.

Images of lemmings, happily scurrying along together, only to suddenly fall off the cliff come to mind. It’s easy to predict from a distance, but nearly impossible amid the scurrying crowd. Thankfully there is exciting work happening on many fronts, and we have lots of information pouring out every day on ways to have positive and sustainable impacts on our aging experience- physically, financially, and emotionally.

Altering long-held beliefs

Through my teaching of mature adults on successful Aging-in-Place strategies for longevity, I’ve had the rare opportunity to work with a wide range of needs, as well as the challenges of altering long-held beliefs. Even the obvious and easy steps can be genuinely difficult for most. The majority of students are highly educated, many having held senior roles in their workplace and community. Accepting that basic choices or habits they’ve enjoyed for years has been scurrying them to the cliff is something few are willing to accept easily- that is, until they’ve experienced seeing a loved one struggle. At that point, it becomes clear that they needed a plan yesterday. ​A successful Aging-in-Place strategy for longevity has Four Pillars; Finance, Health, Community and Environment, all interdependent on each other. And because it takes one weak leg to compromise a perfectly good chair, a successful strategy needs to take a critical look at these four pillars.


10 tips to successful home-based retirement lifestyle with positive health and longevity Outcomes

  1. Look to the health and nutrition community for support for opportunities to improve overall health, allowing your body to naturally fend off disease and slow the aging process.
  2. Diet matters more than we ever knew. Independent studies from both the science and medical communities conclude that nothing contributes more to overall health and a strong immune system than a healthy microbiome, which is only achieved through healthy nutrition.
  3. Get outside and explore things that bring you joy. Exercise stimulates circulation of both the blood and lymph systems and exposes you to a healthy microbial environment.
  4. Create an environment that is attractive, sustainable and easy to live in the future, even on occasional days when “Future-Self” is feeling tired and weak and is most vulnerable to falls. Educate yourself on Universal Design and the logical improvements that make a home accessible for loved ones and friends today and in future years.
  5. Surround yourself in the few treasures that have fond memories and purge the rest.
    Looks for ways to simplify transportation, banking, food shopping etc. to allow for sustained freedom and independence.
  6. Unless you have millions and delight in the idea of handing most of it over to retirement facilities and the tax collectors, allocate funds for near-term upgrades in your home and future healthcare. Hire an Elder law attorney to prepare trusts and wills to ensure funds are available for you in the future, and for those you wish to pass any surplus on to, as well as an Advanced Healthcare Directive for end-of-life choices.
  7. Nurture your community. People are our lifeline. They motivate us and are the ones we’ll lean on in times of need. Tight communities help us to weather the storms life throws at us and contribute to longer, happier lives.
  8. Practice mindfulness. Discover the power of turning down the noise of life and elevating clarity of your purpose while letting go of stress. Whether through faith or meditation, practicing mindfulness is a powerful vehicle for step change direction toward fulfillment and joy.
  9. Put your plans on paper and take action.
    Time waits for no one—Waiting for a crisis before taking action is a recipe for disaster. You’ll spend more money, have fewer options, and kick yourself for being so shortsighted.
  10. Be a Longevity Ambassador. We all look up to those who seemed to figure it out and remained active and vibrant well beyond the rest. It’s one of the best legacies any of us can hope to achieve, and one that is within our reach.

This list is just a place to start. More importantly, it points to an attainable path offering years of quality living, filled with physical, mental and emotional health, shared with loving family and friends.

~Scott Fulton



Turn aspirations into reality.
Visit the Home Ideations team: https://www.homeideations.com
Contact Scott: [email protected]

Achieve sustainable, enticing home environments with step-change wellness and financial outcomes:
– Beautiful lifelong housing solutions where families of all ages and abilities thrive.
– Designs that achieve the ultimate in style, function and accessibility.
– Leader in sustainable home-based retirement strategies that preserve lifestyle and equity.

Design & Remodeling services:
– Designer Kitchens, Curbless Showers and natural No-Step Entries
– Outdoor Living Kitchens, Fire Pits and Water Features (Clifrock)

Home-Based Retirement Planning (Aging in Place):
– Instructor/speaker on the fast-changing socioeconomic landscape
– Tools for retirement that help preserve independence and lifestyle
– Discover the upside of proactive strategies for sustainable success

Thanks Scott, for sharing your wisdom and for being a colleague and friend.


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