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What to Consider For Seniors Planning to Age In Place

Updated: Apr 1


Aging in place is the ability to remain in one's own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably regardless of age, income, and ability level. According to a recent AARP survey, 90% of adults over 65 want to remain in their current homes as they age instead of moving to an assisted living or long-term care facility. However, only 15% of those same people have thought about what changes to existing homes or what lifestyle adjustments need to be made or planned for to support their wishes.


What Does Aging In Place Require?


To successfully age in place, a person needs to ensure they have all the resources they require lined up or know where to turn to get the help they need. A person aging in place will need access to healthcare, safety and accessibility in their home, transportation, personal care help, social activities, and companionship. The best time to seek out these resources is before they are needed. Some places to find community resources for seniors are:

  • The Elder Care Locator- https://eldercare.acl.gov/ or 1-800-677-1116 ,a public service website from the U.S. Administration on Aging to connect older adults and their families to support services.

  • Your state or local Agency on Aging

  • Local public libraries

  • Local financial planning office

  • Senior living communities in the area

Let's take a closer look into what kinds of questions a person wanting to age in place should answer and what plans they should make depending on the answers.





Healthcare Considerations:

How healthy are you right now? Are there chronic health conditions you have such as Diabetes, Heart Disease, COPD, Kidney Disease, or other issues that you need to consider the prognosis of for the future? Consider how close your doctor's office and hospitals are to you. As you get older, will you still be able to drive the distance yourself? If the answer is no, should you change to a closer office or arrange for other transportation to appointments? Discuss with your doctors any accommodations or adaptive devices or technology that you might need or benefit from.


Home Safety and Accessibility:

As people age their mobility, how they can get around changes. Muscle strength weakens, eyesight can worsen, Arthritis, joint problems, and pain can develop, changes in brain functioning, and symptoms of diseases can all affect how easily a person can move around inside their home. According to the CDC fall prevention website, each year 3 million people over 65 are seen in emergency rooms for injuries from falls with 1 out of 5 of those a serious injury such as a head injury or broken bone. 800,000 people a year are hospitalized because of a fall and approximately 36,000 deaths are attributed each year to a result of a fall. Preventing falls then becomes one of the most important things you can do to stay in your home safely. Perform a walkthrough of your home thinking about potential risks and asking yourself what modifications can be made to ensure you are safe. Small changes like removing throw rugs and other tripping hazards, changing, or adding lighting, changing switches from toggle styles to a rocker, and adding safety features such as grab bars, raised seating, and switching knob style door and cabinet openers to levers or cups (also called "D" handles) can go a long way to making a home safer and more accessible for seniors. Should you perform bigger remodeling and modification projects such as adding exterior ramps, no step entrances, and showers, or making a first-floor bedroom and bathroom to keep you independent longer? Are any of the newer technologies like smart devices something you should consider? Today countless applications of smart devices can prolong a person's independence including voice activation of lighting and door locks, reminders for medications, and even fall detection that will automatically alert family or first responders.


Transportation:

Losing the ability to drive is often one of the hardest things to adjust to as a person ages and one of the biggest barriers to independence. Being dependent on others to get places needed or wanted to go can cause feelings of anger, depression, or embarrassment, and shame. Having a plan in place that addresses transportation needs before it is time to give up the keys can mitigate some of these feelings. Unfortunately, self-driving cars are not a plausible option for the general population... yet. So, investigate what options exist in your area. Many urban and suburban areas offer public transportation such as buses, shuttles, or trains. Is a ride service like Uber or Lyft available in the area? Some communities have paratransit systems or volunteer transportation programs. Knowing there is a way to still get around helps ensure good health, quality of life, and well-being as people age.


Personal Care Assistance:

Everyday tasks and functions may get difficult or impossible to manage by yourself for many different reasons. Basic everyday actions such as dressing, bathing, grooming, using the toilet, moving in and out of bed or a chair, and eating may be hard to do because of aging, illnesses, or disabilities. For example, people with congestive heart failure or pulmonary disease may lack the physical endurance or stamina to perform cleaning, cooking, and laundry on their own. Arthritis may prevent the small, precise movements of the hands and arms needed to put on shoes and tie shoelaces or manage zippers and snaps on clothing. Many adaptive devices exist that are designed to make it easier to take care of personal grooming. If a more advanced degree of help is needed, a professional caregiver can provide customizable personal care services for you.


Socialization:

Social isolation and loneliness affect more than one-third of adults. Leaving the workplace, deaths of spouses and friends, living in remote areas, limited finances, and the inability to remain physically and mentally active can all be factors in seniors feeling lonely or isolated. Isolation can quickly affect mental health and well-being leading to premature death, including by suicide, dementia, heart disease, stroke, depression, and anxiety. There are many ways to combat loneliness. Learn to use social media and technology to stay in contact with friends and family even if you are homebound. For those who can leave home, try volunteering, joining a new club, or finding a new hobby to increase social circles and make new friends. Senior programs and centers can be another option for socialization. Many colleges have reduced or free tuition for people over 65. You can take a class about a topic of interest or learn new skills. Getting older doesn't mean life stops being fun and enjoyable.


Remaining at home takes planning and forethought. Start early, before the need to address these aging issues turns into having waited too long and the issue becomes a catastrophe.


With planning, you can maintain your independence longer, no matter what health-related changes come up. However, if the time has come that you need a little help to stay in your home, Absolute Best Care Home Solutions can assist with transportation, companionship, personal care, and much more. Visit our Services page to see how we can help you maintain your independence and stay in your home.





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