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What is Aging in Place
Aging in place means growing old in your home rather than having to move into a facility. Having a family member that wants to age in place can take some work. It requires making homes safe and accessible and ensuring that a loved one’s needs are all met. 76% of adults 50 or over want to remain in their home and 77% want to stay in their community. This means most seniors, even if they can’t stay in their home, want to stay near their friends.
Why We Should Consider Aging in Place
Dealing with an elderly family member that wants to age in place can be a strain on younger family members. However, aging in place has shown long-term cost savings to families and health systems. Plus, keeping elderly family close to their home and community provide necessary health, emotional and social benefits.
Creating an opportunity to age in place requires an agreement, often unspoken, between aging parents and their caretaker children. This requires an honest assessment on both sides of how well the senior(s) can remain on their own in their home. Both sides must be honest and understanding. While seniors may want to age at home it is more important that they are aging in the right place.
The Right Location to Age in Place
Aging in place does not necessarily have to mean aging in the same home. Some adjustments to the idea can be made while still providing senior family members with freedom and independence. Moving to a smaller home closer to family, or older grandchildren moving in to help are possibilities. Creative thinking can be used to solve many problems. Everyone involved in the conversation just needs to be willing to listen!
Considerations of aging in place include:
- Home maintenance, repairs and ADA compliant upgrades in the forms of ramps or lifts
- General cost of living
- Size of home relative to number of people living there. 40% of seniors 55-75 and 38% over 75 live in homes with 3 or more bedrooms.
- Access to medical facilities
- Access to social programs, groups, and activities
- Local transportation options
- Proximity to family and friends
Remember, the core idea of aging in place! The senior gets to live where they would like to live. However, they must also have access to the services they need and things they want in their daily life.
Being Healthy Enough to Age in Place
Health considerations are another crucial aspect of the decision to age in place. If an elderly loved one is not able to manage their medications properly they will need assistance. Is their access to home care that will help with bathing, medication, and providing companionship?
Health conditions that are likely to affect aging in place include:
- Declining eyesight
- Reduced muscle mass and lessened strengthen
- Diminished mental and physical endurance
- Higher risk of accidents and bone breakage
- Reduced hearing
- Decreased mobility and agility
- Decreased flexibility
What Can Prevent Aging In Place
Many elderly family members and loved ones can be allowed to age in place. However, there are some things that can, unfortunately, prevent this for others. Health and access to care are the primary issues that can affect a loved one’s ability to remain at home. Other aspects that can prevent aging in place include:
- Lack of access to caregivers and family
- Lack of transportation if they cannot drive
- Feelings of loneliness and isolation
- Inability of the family to guarantee the health and safety of loved ones
If you’d like more information on aging in place check out these resources for seniors and families:
- Area Agencies on Aging https://www.n4a.org/
- National Aging in Place Council https://www.ageinplace.org/Local-Chapters
- The Center for Aging in Place https://www.centerforaginginplace.org/