Aging in place refers to the ability of seniors to live in their own homes, wherever that may be, for as long as they are independent and safe. With so many elders planning to age in place, it is important to know that a wide range of information, services and products are available to make staying "at home" a viable option.
Who Ages in Place?
Figures show that some 70 percent of seniors spend the rest of their lives in the place where they celebrated their 65th birthday. For many this means living in the family home in the community in which they worked, shopped and raised their children. Others may call "home" a senior living campus that provides a full range of facilities, including independent living, assisted living nursing care and memory care.
Aging in place successfully requires planning. These days Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) are available to help individuals explore ways to make their homes more accommodating to their changing needs. Professionals can also help seniors develop a network of services including home health care and transportation.
Otherwise, associations such as the National Aging in Place Council (NAPC) offer information about how individuals can make their homes more senior-friendly as well as learn how to secure support services.
What Services Help Make It Work?
While the normal aging process is often blamed for seniors' inability to continue living at home, many experts believe the real problem rests with the way our homes are designed and the way our communities are developed. With a fresh perspective, even those with conditions such as osteoporosis, arthritis and diabetes can achieve aging in place through relatively easy and affordable home modifications.
People find that simple changes can make a huge difference such as replacing doorknobs with pull handles or installing ramps and no-step thresholds. Other easy modifications include installing better lighting, removing throw rugs and increasing the size of doorjambs to allow for easy maneuvering of walkers and wheelchairs.
Seniors also discover a growing number of paid, in-home services that provide household chores such as laundry, cleaning, meal preparation and bill paying. Capitalizing on local transportation services is another way seniors can remain independent and social.
What About Health Care?
One of the most important keys to aging in place safely and comfortably is to tap into home health care services. Increasingly, local health care providers offer services delivered at home to recovering, disabled, chronically or terminally ill people who need medical, nursing, social or therapeutic treatment.
While time and gravity are simple facts of life, aging in place can offer many benefits for those willing to make some accommodations. Learning how to enhance home safety and comfort as well as access homemaker and health services can make aging in place a viable option for many seniors.
Written by senior care writer Leslee Jaquette.