Successful Aging In Place
Most Americans do not make a plan to age in place, although you should start thinking about one before you plan to retire. Creating a plan can prevent unexpected events from turning into crises that compromise one's ability to live independently.
“Successful” aging is important because it can help us understand what kinds of things we should focus on, to help more older adults age well, or otherwise “succeed” in late-life. To Age in Place simply means that you will be remaining in your own home for the later years of your life; not moving into a smaller home, assisted living, or a retirement community etcetera. This is a lifestyle choice.
Is Aging In Place Right For You?
In their Retirement Report, Kiplinger addressed the point, “Renovations are just a part of what you need to make aging in place work for you. While it’s typically less expensive to remain in your home than to pay for assisted living, that doesn’t mean it’s a slam dunk to stay put. You’ll still have a long to-do list. Just one example: You need to plan ahead for how you will manage maintenance and care—for your home, and for yourself.”
So before you spend the money to remodel or renovate your current house so you can age in place, reach out to a local real estate professional to determine if it is truly your best option. Making a move to a smaller home in the neighborhood might make the most sense.
Your home situation is unique, and several factors will weigh in on the best choice for you. Below are some successful components for Aging in Place:
Finances. Making a budget with anticipated expenses can help you weigh the pros and cons of your situation. Alternate arrangements like assisted living can be expensive, but extensive in-home help can rapidly become expensive as well, especially at higher levels of care and live-in or 24-hour coverage.
Social Engagement/Recreation. The effects of social isolation among the elderly are frightening: increased risk of long-term illness, cognitive decline, depression, pessimism, sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and early mortality, to name a few. But if seniors don’t make an active effort to expand their social circle and form new bonds, their social connection inevitably wanes as friends, relatives, and spouses pass away.
Staying socially engaged is central to successful aging. A network of meaningful relationships not only brings purpose to a senior’s days, it also ensures that older adults have a support system when they fall upon difficult times. An elderly person who has friends, family and neighbors who can check in, provide short-term caregiving, or help run errands has an increased ability to age in place even when faced with health issues.
Activities of Daily Living. Deficits in basic self-care activities have been linked to older adults' ability to remain in their home. Activities of daily living refer to the basic skills needed to properly care for oneself and meet one's physical needs in six areas: eating, dressing, bathing, toileting, continence and mobility. Understand how to assess your aging loved one's ability to complete activities of daily living (ADLs) to help ensure they live their best life.
Preventive services are important for everyone, especially for older adults. This is because your risk for health problems increases as you age.
House Maintenace and Upkeep. One’s home environment requires predictable maintenance such as changing furnace filters, cleaning floors, replacing light bulbs, and mowing the lawn. But unpredictable events might arise that can demand increased effort on the resident’s part. For example, a strong thunderstorm may rip shingles off the roof resulting in water damage to the inside ceiling of the home. The resident must take quick action to repair the damage. The extent to which residents are able to manage such environmental demand fluctuations determines the quality of interaction between the person and the environment.
Household chores. Do you need help with chores like housecleaning, yard work, grocery shopping, or laundry? Some grocery stores and drug stores will take your order over the phone and bring the items to your home. There are cleaning and yard services you can hire, or maybe someone you know has a housekeeper or gardener to suggest. Some housekeepers will help with laundry. Some drycleaners will pick up and deliver your clothes.
Isolation. Another risk of aging in place is related to social isolation. It is well documented that elders often become more isolated as they age. The concern here is that there is a growing body of evidence that Elders who are socially isolated are at greater risk of early death.
Medical conditions. No one can predict the future. However, if you or a loved one has a chronic medical condition that is expected to worsen over time, it’s especially important to think about how you will handle health and mobility problems. What are common complications of your condition, and how will you handle them?
National Aging in Place Council
The National Aging in Place Council is a respected national leader and trusted partner to help people aged 60+ meet the challenges of aging. We partner with nonprofit organizations, government, and business to provide innovative community programs and services, online help, and advocacy.
Aging in Place Specialists
Aging in place specialists are people who consult with construction companies and homeowners in remodeling homes for the needs of older adults. Some contractor's work with people certified in aging in place design and remodeling.
AARP, the National Association of Home Builders and Home Innovation Research Labs offer a Certified Aging in Place Specialist credential for experts in the field. If you are considering making adjustments to your home, ask your construction company if they work with a certified aging-in-place specialist.
Aging in Place Options
Packed with people of all different physical abilities, nursing homes can be overcrowded, limiting the amount of attention and care that the staff can provide at any one time. But with the assistance of agencies that provide non medical in-home care, aging in place is now made possible.
Nearly 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age, often referred to as “aging in place.”
Even if they begin to need day-to-day assistance or ongoing health care during retirement, most (82 percent) would prefer to stay in their homes. Only a few express a preference for moving to a facility where care is provided (9 percent) or for moving to a relative’s home (4 percent).
Living under one’s own rules is a key reason for staying in one’s own home, with 42 percent of seniors choosing it as one of their top three considerations.
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