What is aging in place? Aging in place is when older adults choose to remain in their own homes, rather than moving to an independent living community.
Aging in place is popular these days. In fact, nearly 90% of people over the age of 50 want to remain in their homes, according to a 2021 survey. Many of these older adults want to preserve their independence, continue to live in familiar spaces, continue their connections within their communities, and maintain control over their lives. Older adults who want to age in place often feel that they can continue their lives for several more years without frequent assistance.
While you may not be able to predict how your needs may change, advanced planning can help you age in place safely and comfortably.
Planning to Age in Place
1. Assess your health
Consider any health conditions you or your spouse have that may make aging in place more difficult. Arthritis may make it harder to climb stairs, for example, while a heart problem can interfere with your ability to do yard work.
In addition to the normal physical constraints of aging, conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can make it exceptionally difficult, and unsafe, to live independently as you age. In those instances, you or your loved one should seek to find a capable, comfortable memory care program near you. Memory care is a specialized type of senior care that provides individualized attention and assistance from trained professionals in a safe, secure environment.
Consult with your doctor to determine how much of an effect these illnesses may have on independent living.
2. Assess your current living situation
Do you live alone? Do you or your spouse need assistance? Aging in place may be harder if you live by yourself or need assistance with showering, dressing, preparing meals, or other activities of daily living. Your ability to get groceries, go to the doctor, and visit with friends and family are also important considerations.
Evaluate the layout of your home. Having a bathroom and bedroom on the main floor of the home makes it easier to age in place, whereas having to climb stairs may make living at home more challenging.
3. Consider the future
Are you able to do everything you want today? Will you be able to do those things in six months? Think about the future, and identify any obstacles that might prevent you from living your dreams.
4. Determine the services you may need
If you need a little help with one or two activities of daily living, you can still age in place with some assistance. However, it may be more comfortable to live in a senior community or assisted living environment that is designed to offer a broad range of services to make aging in place easier.
When considering a senior living facility, make sure they offer a wide variety of services and senior care amenities to help you continue living comfortably. These services include:
- Personal care assistants who can help with bathing and dressing
- Housekeepers and yard maintenance workers
- Meal preparation or meal delivery
- Healthcare assistants to help with medication management
Challenges to Aging in Place
Homes with stairs or steps, hallways and doors that are too narrow to accommodate wheelchairs, and traditional bathroom layouts can be difficult for people with mobility issues to navigate. A nursing home or assisted living facility, on the other hand, will be designed with safety and security for seniors in mind.
Transportation can be a big issue, even for city dwellers. Driving in metropolitan areas can be challenging for older adults. Even though larger cities and towns have public transportation, it can be difficult for older people to catch a bus or get on a train. In many communities, though, public transportation is not available.
While most communities are working towards complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), many sidewalks, buildings, and services are still difficult for older adults to use. Doorways are not always large enough to fit wheelchairs, for example, or there may not be elevators for people who cannot climb stairs.
Certain health conditions can make it difficult to age in place. Mobility issues can prevent someone from getting from their bed to the bathroom, for example, and cooking can be difficult for those with poor eyesight. It may be more convenient (and even enjoyable!) to age in an environment that offers nutritious senior dining options, on-site healthcare providers, and living spaces designed to accommodate seniors as they age.
How Serenity Oaks Can Help
Before deciding whether to age in place or move to a senior living community, consult with an assisted living professional. Many older adults find they can enjoy many more years in their own homes with the help of assisted living.
An assisted living professional can answer your questions and even help you assess your current situation to determine if aging in place is right for you. For more information, contact the assisted living professionals at Serenity Oaks.