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Who Should Consider Aging in Place?

Any senior who values independent living and enjoying the home they’ve come to love should consider aging in place. This may seem like an obvious answer, but it’s worth looking at closely because there’s more to staying in your own home than meets the eye. Aging in place is a goal that many older adults value, but few actually manage to avoid having to move to an assisted living facility. That’s because simply having a home built for first floor living is just the very start of a campaign to avoid nursing homes. Although about 80% of older adults prefer aging in place, only about 25% manage to make the home modifications happen. Why? A number of reasons, but the big ones include:

  • Not knowing what home modifications are needed to make aging in place work.

  • Uncertainty about the costs of health services and home modifications.

  • Lack of experience with personal care delivered in their home by a home health aide

  • Family members not living nearby.

  • Safety concerns and uncertainty about aging in place with their own home modifications.

  • Confusion about government programs in general, and especially programs offered by the federal government.

Resources to Help You Age in Place

When it comes to senior living and aging in place in your own home, the difference between success and failure comes down to information about what’s needed, and completion of home health care plans and renovations for an aging population looking for independent living.

One surprising roadblock for many seniors is a lack of faith in the whole idea of aging in place:

“If aging in place were really an option”, some seniors ask, “why do so many seniors end up in a nursing home or some other assisted living facility instead of aging in place?”

That’s an excellent question, and the answer has nothing to do with the technical feasibility of older adults continuing to live at home. The real reason so many seniors end up in a commercial or governmental assisted living facility in an urban development is three-fold:

  1. Few seniors have seen friends and colleagues create an independent living opportunity away from nursing homes for themselves, so the assumption is that it’s not practical.

  2. Most seniors begin planning and creating aging in place features for their own home care.

  3. The technical requirements for home modifications, with no single source of supportive services to help with daily life.

The fact is, none of these concerns are valid at this time in history. An entire movement has begun to make senior living at home much more possible than ever before. Technical advances like excellent grab bars, assistive technology, in home care, accessory dwelling units, and items made especially for first floor living are becoming more common to help with everyday tasks.

Here’s what I recommend to begin with: Talk to people you know who may have begun the journey of aging in place before you. Build your confidence that supportive housing, medical care, government programs, and all inclusive care at home really is a practical possibility. Family, friend groups and adult children are important sources of support for many older adults, too. The Resources section of this website includes constantly updated information on financial resources, health services, federal programs, local government programs, social security, in home care, basic modifications, geriatric care managers, accessible housing options and other supportive housing services for seniors aging in place are available and they work. Even home builders and renovators are getting on board, with growing experience helping seniors or an adult children family member to make seniors aging in place something that can happen and happen safely.

Children Helping Parents Age in Place

One of the best ways to make aging in place happen well is when grown children and parents work together to make the necessary changes required to home and life. In some cases, this amounts to a community living arrangement where children and parents move into the same house together. Other times children help plan the changes required to the house, they coordinate personal care and doctors visits for parents, and they monitor mental health, safety concerns, everyday tasks and overall health care. Not all family dynamics allow this sort of close working relationship to help avoid nursing homes, but when there’s enough love and selflessness, the result is a beautiful thing and much better than even the fanciest assisted living facility can match. This is so much better than a nursing home.

As useful as it is for family members to take a direct role in helping parents aging in place, both children and parents need to aim for politeness, patience and respect as they work together. Keep these five guidelines in mind if you’re aiming to create a child/parent aging in place team:

  1. Take your time: Older adults often need more time to process changes to their own home and daily life as aging continues. This is especially true when it happens as a result of losing abilities and control. Children need to slow down and allow time for adjustments.

  2. Be thankful: Parents need to recognize that it’s a big commitment for adult children to be closely involved in home care for their parents. It’s wise to remember that most middle-aged children have children of their own, jobs to work, bills to pay, and households to keep in good working order. And for grown children, remember that time is limited and this should help you maintain patience, selflessness and love in sometimes challenging situations with Mom or Dad. Be thankful that you have the time to spend with your parents. They won’t be around forever.

  3. Get good at finding help: Even with the help of adult children, there are times when outside health services may be required to come into the home. Children will need to get good at connecting with the right people on their parents’ behalf. Veterans affairs, federal programs, meeting with a financial advisor, local governments, coordinating in-home care visits are all things that children can help parents with.

  4. Consider occasional respite care: Senior housing facilities sometimes allow short-term stays for older adults, to give care-giving family members a break for a time. This will also be useful if any major renovations are happening, such as the reworking of a bathroom, kitchen or bedroom, or the installation of assistive technology. More than half of seniors want to remain in their own home as they age, and more could achieve this if children partnered with parents to make it happen. All-inclusive care for seniors is the norm in some parts of the world, and it’s technically possible in many places.

    Costs of Aging in Place

Few seniors realize that aging in place is actually one of the most economical options. The cost of life in an assisted living facility is roughly two to three times higher than in-home care costs. Here’s one of many links that list the cost of institutional care. Health and human services departments can and do offer some financial relief, but costs of health care and senior housing is still extremely high. And when your need for this care is over, all the money is gone. This is quite different than any renovation costs you may incur modifying your existing home for aging in place. When it comes time to sell your age-proofed private home, part of the cost of these renovations will come back to your family in the form of a higher resale value. Houses ready for senior living command a higher price and they sell more quickly because they’re in higher demand, especially if the house is located in an urban development with grocery shopping, senior centers and a first floor layout.

What Support Can Help Me Age at Home?

In many places it’s possible to find all kinds of hands-on help for aging residents who want to avoid the nursing home for aging in place and continuing to live in their own home — sometimes for economical fees. Start by Googling “aging in place resources near me“. You can also find a continually-updated list of options on the Resource section of this website. Some of the services are financial, others are more practical.

The amount of support you’ll need will vary over time. Perhaps at first you might just hire a home health aide for a little time every single day. Or perhaps you need help with housework, cleaning, grocery shopping or travelling for doctor visits. A growing number of grocery stores and drug stores take orders on the phone or online, making deliveries for a modest fee.

Common Concerns About Aging in Place

How can I travel for doctor visits? What can I do if I have difficulty walking? Will I need extensive modifications in my home to make it age-proof? Questions like these and many more are common, but seniors are asking them and getting answers that make the home environment more liveable, with or without a family caregiver.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the options, especially if you have health issues. Just remember that feelings are often misleading. Basic modifications are easy enough to complete, and this website and online course is made to provide answers to your questions. Thousands of seniors just like you have age-proofed their homes, so you can, too. Talk with nearby family to gauge how much assistance they can offer for daily living early on, during the planning stages of your work. Start slow and add features to your home regularly.Maybe a walker might help. If you need some extra help, try an electric lift chair. Often Medicare and similar agencies often cover this type of expense. Are there any medical issues that need attention from the doctor? Volunteers can provide escorting. If you don’t own an automobile, you may need to seek free or inexpensive public transportation or taxis. Aging in place can work, as proven by all the people it is working for.

What Does Aging in Place Really Mean?

According to the CDC, ageing in place is defined as being the ability of aging residents to live safely in a home or home-like community without a financial burden irrespective of age. Even with a private room, nursing homes often leave the elderly lonely and susceptible to suffering and a shortened life. The main aim of aging in place is to maintain as high a quality of life as possible, while also maximizing independence and dignity.

How to Plan Ahead for Aging in Place

Planning is an essential first step since the task of equipping a home for aging in place has many parts. You need to consider the type of human assistance you may need, plus the equipment to make such a thing possible. You may need no assistance right now, if you live at home with your spouse or family friend, but aging never stops. The biggest mistake most seniors make is not only failing to plan, but failing to plan early enough to make a difference.

Planning to age in place: Steps to Take

Aging at the end of life is more than simply an act of staying a place. There are some changes and preparations required. Creating a health care checklist will help you prioritize the things to do. Looking at available home care resources can help you determine which option is right for you. Programs are designed to help seniors find solutions to the gaps in care that can be addressed and help reduce their risk of illness or disability. A careful plan will help you achieve this.

New AARP survey reveals where and how people want to live

The pandemic change the way people spent time at home, community, and in some ways this is a good thing. Although many older adults have gotten in the habit of spending more time at home than they want to, and feel less connected to community living, this underscores the importance of self-reliance. Aging at home, and the physical and social infrastructure required to make it happen are more important than ever.

One this is for sure. COVID-19 hasn’t influenced older adults’ desire to stay at home as they age, says an AARP Home and Community Preferences Survey. The data shows that 77 percent would rather stay in their homes for aging in place.

How to Reduce Costs of Aging in Place

One of the key aspects of aging is to think about the cost of health care at home and figure out ways to pay for this. The federal government, regional governments, veterans affairs, and health insurance groups are offering financial help to reduce the need for an aging population to live in a nursing home, getting the medical care needed for aging in place.

There are a lot of people who want to see you succeed as an independent senior, continuing to live in the community safely. Home builders are better able to make independent senior housing an aging in place possible. But as much as help is available, as an older adult (or friend or family member), you still need to do your part.

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