What is “Aging in place”?
“Aging in place” occurs when a person decides to remain in their home in their later years as opposed to a long-term senior care facility. Aging in place involves having necessary services, care, and support in the residence. Many seniors report that they would like to age in place, but under half of the seniors can.
Technology allows more seniors to live independently and stay connected with important people like family, friends, and emergency services. Home sensors, personal navigational devices, and other communications offer ways to stay connected and safe while a caregiver is not on hand.
Why do seniors decide to age in place?
- Aging in place allows seniors to remain in their homes in their neighborhoods.
- Aging in place allows seniors to enjoy a sense of control.
- Aging in place allows seniors to stay in their comfort zone.
- Aging in place offers seniors an opportunity to enjoy property they spent years investing time and money.
- A seniors’ home may associate with many site-specific activities, holiday traditions, and fond memories.
- A private home allows family and friends to visit as they wish.
- Seniors can also maintain social relationships in their neighborhoods.
- Seniors can enjoy their privacy.
What to consider when planning to age in place?
- Social Isolation
Financial ability is an aspect to consider when planning to age in place. Individuals planning to age in place should have their home paid off before retirement. Most seniors live on a fixed income consisting of social security or retirement. A person planning to age in place may have to account for services to supplement activities they need help with or can no longer perform. Home modifications are often needed to make the home safer and more convenient. Seniors also must worry about scammers.
Seniors should consider getting geriatric care managers, financial counselors, or local volunteers. Paying bills online, like rent, mortgage, and utilities, helps streamline financial transactions. Seniors having trouble with finances needs to give someone they trust permission to discuss bills with creditors. They may need someone to discuss their social security or Medicare benefits with those agencies.
Home Health Aide
An aging senior often needs the assistance of a home health aide. A home health aide is a health care paraprofessional that helps with routine chores, assists with daily living activities, check vital signs, monitors the client’s physical and mental condition, and handles emergencies.
Common home modifications include:
- installing ramps for exterior stairs
- widening doorways to accommodate walkers or wheelchairs
- installing indoor threshold ramps for wheelchairs
- adjusting countertops and sinks
- installing walk-in tubs/showers
- installing grab bars in the tub/shower
- installing easy to grip handles on doors and faucets
- installing slip proofing floors
- installing better insulation and carpet
Everyday chores can become burdensome, dangerous, and sometimes impossible. Seniors may need a home health aide for small tasks and will need to hire someone to mow the lawn, clear the gutters, and landscape the bushes.
Seniors living at home are targets of scams and fraud. It is imperative never to give out sensitive information like a social security number, credit card number, or bank account number unless it is confirmed to be a legitimate source. A senior and their loved one should check all bills for charges they do not understand and evidence that a fraudulent charge may have occurred.
Health and Safety
Health is another critical factor when planning to age in place. A person’s health may prevent them from being able to age at home safely. A part-time home health aide may be less expensive than an assisted living facility. If a person needs round-the-clock care, a senior care facility could potentially be a better option. Anyone planning to age at home should discuss with a physician how chronic conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis, or emphysema could make home health difficult.
As going outside becomes more difficult, the risk of social isolation and inactivity becomes more possible. The choice to age in place could trap some people, even if they wanted to age in place. New physical limitations or health conditions may mean they are rarely leaving home. This could make it difficult to keep in touch with old friends or make new ones.
It is understandable why someone would want to age in place. A person who has paid off their home, where they have raised their children, and have known their neighbors for years will probably be less likely to want to relocate to a senior care facility. Understanding the difficulties that may arise with that decision is still important.
Aging in place is not for everyone. People without a strong family/community network may find that a senior care facility is best for them even if they can afford to age. As we age into our senior years, our health concerns and injury risk increases. No one wants to be alone when they need help. Individuals aging in place should consider getting a medical alert ID and necklace and always keeping a charged cell phone near them.
Aging in Place: Growing Older at Home | National Institute on Aging (nih.gov)
Aging In Place | What is Aging in Place and What Does it Mean (seniorliving.org)
Which Type of Senior Care Is Right for Your Loved One? (senioradvisor.com)
Home Health Aides: Professional Caregiving Help at Home (aarp.org)