Where Will You Live If You Cannot Take Care of Yourself?

by Jackie Bedard


It’s not a question we like to think about, but where would you live if you could not take care of yourself at some point in the future? Or if you’re younger, consider the same question for your parents.

The answer we often hear to this question is, “I’m going to stay at home until I die.” If you are going to live at home, how will you be cared for at home? Who will do the caregiving? How will you pay for the care?

Your best chance of staying at home for as long as possible is directly tied to the planning you do now.

Other tough questions to plan for living at home are:

  • Is your home set up for a wheelchair or someone who cannot climb stairs? How much will it cost to renovate?
  • If you cannot live alone, who will care for you? Will one of your children move in? Have you discussed this with all of your children? A family can be torn apart because one child moves in to take care of a parent but another child does not agree. Your wish to stay at home should be documented in your estate planning.
  • Will you hire caregivers? Should you pay family members to care for you (especially if it impacts their ability to work outside of the home)? How do you expect to pay for this care? Long-term care insurance or financial products, Medicaid, veterans benefits, using your personal savings, and a reverse mortgage are all possible options.

You need to let your family know you have a plan by writing it down. It is perfectly OK to decide that you want to spend every penny you own, so you can stay at home—even if you deplete your entire estate. However, if the person managing your healthcare decisions and your finances does not know your wishes, he or she may decide that some other living arrangement is better for either health or financial reasons.

The other answer to this question involves older adults who cannot live at home. If that is the right choice, then some options to consider include an independent apartment in a complex that supplies extra support when needed, senior housing, an assisted living facility, a child or friend’s home, or a life plan community.

Just as with living at home, ask yourself: How will you be cared for, how will the care be paid for, and who will do the caregiving? Your plan should include when it is appropriate to be moved out of your home, if you are not capable of communicating your wishes, and your preference where you would like to live if you cannot live at home.


Bedard, an elder law attorney with Carolina Family Estate Planning, can be reached at 919-443-3035 or www.carolinafep.com.