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In the 1990 comedy movie Home Alone, Macaulay Culkin plays the role of Kevin McAllister, a young boy mistakenly left behind while his family flies to Paris for their Christmas vacation. While the movie was a huge success, such is not the case for seniors who are remaining in their homes without appropriate assistance. While it is understandable for seniors to want to remain in their homes, it can be very dangerous unless appropriate steps are taken to ensure it can be done safely.

With an estimated 10,000 baby boomers turning age 65 each day, a growing number of seniors are “aging in place” rather than relocating to an assisted living or nursing home or moving in with their children. As reported in The Wall Street Journal (“More Americans Age At Home, Alone”), the primary reason being they prefer to stay in their homes. Unfortunately, this desire to age in place is often lacking the careful planning to make it possible –and safe.

According to a 2010 AARP survey, 88% of respondents age 65 and older stated they wanted to remain in their home as long as possible. In my experience, I would estimate the number is even higher. I am still waiting to be told by any client that they are anxious to move into an assisted living or nursing home. With children often too busy or residing far away, and public and private agencies being unable to meet the overwhelming demand to provide assistance, some seniors are living alone when it is no longer safe to do so. As a result, many are at risk and eventually have to leave their homes despite their desire to stay.

70% of seniors over age 65 will need some type of long term care in their lifetime. Any senior who believes they are not at risk of needing long term care is living dangerously. The failure to develop a legal and financial long term care plan only increases the risk of being unable to age in place. This plan must include the likelihood that assistance with activities of daily living will be necessary and how such care will be provided and paid for. An experienced elder law attorney can help you maximize your ability to remain safely in your home – for your entire life.

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