Anyone who is retired knows that navigating retirement issues can be challenging. The transition from working to retirement requires a conscious adjustment. The freedom from the pressure and stress of working can be exhilarating. That’s the good news.

However, it is important to remember that retirement has stages. Dr. Don Taylor addressed this issue in a 2014 article in Bankrate. He describes the three stages as “go-go,” “slow go,” and “no-go.”

His point is that retirees need to recognize that spending patterns will change depending on the stage of retirement, and it is important to plan for each stage.

Early years might be filled with travel, hobbies and activities. As retirement progresses, activities of early retirement might slow down. During the “slow go” years, possible health problems might also affect the retiree’s life. The final stage is “no-go,” which is dominated by mobility and health care issues.

The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University released a study last year. “Projections and Implications for Housing a Growing Population: Older Households 2015 to 2035.” The study states that the number of people 65 and older will increase 66 percent over the next 20 years.

In 2035, the number of people in this age group will account for one in three households in the country.

The study cites housing as a key component to quality of life and the ability to remain independent. With an aging population that is growing rapidly, it is estimated those with disabilities living in homes will increase by 76 percent in 20 years. However, 38 percent of households over 65 have mortgages. The burden of a mortgage will likely challenge those households to meet other future needs as they age. Older homeowners who live in a home prefer to remain in their home.

This brings us back to what stage of retirement someone is in. For those in the beginning stage of retirement, it is important to acknowledge the changes and additional costs that will occur as they age. Most of the cost of change will rest on those who are aging. Being prepared for these changes will allow thriving in place. This will mean including the home as a working asset.

For those of us who specialize in reverse mortgages, we believe a homeowner should use funds from all assets to meet the challenges of retirement. Many financial advisors look at investments, retirement funds and Social Security as the three legs of retirement planning. However, many advisors now recognize that equity in a home is also an asset that needs to be included as a fourth leg in retirement planning.

Joan Hillman is a reverse mortgage loan officer with 1st Nations Reverse Mortgage. This article is intended for informational purposes only.