What is Aging in Place?
Aging in place is a term to explain how an individual will live in their home or the home of their choice as they age, for as long as they are able. Aging in place also includes having the ability to obtain the types of services (or assistance) needed as their requirements change or as they age.
To be clear, aging in place is focused on a senior’s life where they can preserve their lifestyle. They can maintain the essential things they need to live comfortably and safely. This distinction is important. The only troubles that can be dealt with while aging in place are the ones that a family has planned for (i.e., financial resources, wellness, personal hygiene, healthcare, etc.)
Preparing for an excellent quality of life while aging in place
The emphasis of aging in place, as mentioned above, is to help seniors ensure they can live where they choose. Aging in place also ensures they will get the assistance they need to remain in their home as long as they want to or are physically able. It is more than that, however. The objective of a senior wishing to age in place must be to maintain or enhance their quality of life.
To age in place, an excellent strategy should be determined as early in the process as possible. This process will review their quality of life in their home, financial resources, health care, community resources, etc. Over time, the strategy may require adjustment as the seniors’ health and other conditions change.
Aging in Place Creates Challenges
Presently, most seniors aged 65 and older are living either with a partner or are alone in their residence. Many of these seniors’ struggle with daily tasks, maintaining their health, and the lives they lead in their homes. For most, their quality of life decreases as they age.
As of 2000, there were roughly 35 million Americans over the age of 65. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2030 there will be approximately 71.5 million Americans over the age of 65. That number stands for almost 20% of the whole projected U.S population and is more than two times greater than what it was in 2000.
The challenge the number of older Americans brings to the country is unmatched. Given our questionable or failing health care system, the lack of local support groups needed to sustain older individuals, and the financial solvency of many seniors, this presents a severe risk for our nation and to our seniors who wish to age in place.
What Does Aging in Place Imply to Family Members?
Their concerns that they will need to remain involved and deal with those aging in place should be addressed in a way that empowers those wishing to age in place. The family will need to help make informed decisions about the home and whether it is suitable for a senior’s continued habitation. They will have to review the senior’s support network and ongoing care. They will have to be able to answer the common and not so common questions that come with aging in place. From those questions, they will have to make decisions that aren’t easy and often plays with the emotions of everybody involved.
Aging in place is still an option.
Making the decision that you want to age in place suggests you are choosing:
- how you wish to spend your retired years
- exactly how you desire your residence to be modified to support a more independent living household
- what your healthcare will look like and the assistance you will require now and then in the future
- what your wishes are when significant life events happen that may require a change in your living situation
Making these decisions provides you with more control and will help to improve your long-term quality of life. More importantly, as you begin to make these decisions, aging in place does not imply you need to do every little thing yourself. It means that you are deciding on how you intend to meet your daily needs. It means you are deciding on how or who will help you meet these needs. It means you are deciding on who will help you make future decisions that may require you to change your aging in place option.
Aging and Modifications To The Home
As an individual start to review their aging in place options, they need to take into consideration their health and other conditions that will undoubtedly change as time goes by. As we age, our bodies and the capacity to look after ourselves changes, so the strategy must look at both the short- and long-term requirements. Some of these changes may include:
- The ability to move freely and navigate everyday obstacles in the home that increases the danger of falling
- The ability to remember correctly and cognitively make appropriate choices
- A reduced immune system that increases the risk of illnesses
- The ability to see or hear appropriately
As these physical, psychological, and other capacities change as we age, understanding these changes and deciding to have a plan to age in place upfront will help make it easier. Having a plan provides you with more control you probably desire and ensures your daily life is more satisfying by reducing your risks.
Some of the activities and tasks you may want to consider as you review your everyday living (ADL) activities are:
- How will you move about your home safely?
- How will you maintain your home?
- How will you get around outside the house? Can you drive or do you have to rely on other transportation to get groceries, go to doctor visits, etc.?
- Who will help to ensure you are maintaining your health appropriately?
- What does your social network look like?
- Who is available in the case of an emergency?
There are many other considerations and preparation provides you with the ability to reduce your families concern to ensure your needs are satisfied. Since mobility often becomes a challenge later in life, particularly with stairs, the ability to see at night, or in the bathroom, there are many ways to either remodel your current home by changing the layout or design or by finding a smaller one-level design that can assist in helping you remain your home.
An Aging in Place Strategy Ensure Dignity
An aging in place strategy is for people who want to ensure they maintain their quality of life, as well as their dignity. It ensures your quality of life and dignity stays in tack without being a burden to your family or the community. By taking the time to develop a strategy with your family, it will help you maintain control of your life.
For those looking after your senior moms and dads, developing a strategy will help respect their wishes, meet their needs, and reduce everyone’s stress that will inevitably be experienced down the road. We both know that you want them to maintain their dignity, and we can help you to identify and provide individualized solutions that meet their needs.