Aging in Place and Why You Need to Think About it Now

Once you reach a certain age, the subject of senior housing options is going to come up. You start to see your peers making changes---moving to a senior living community or downsizing and moving to a warmer climate. Family members start asking about your plans.

Everyone seems to want you to do something. Often that something means moving out of your home into some place new.

What if you don’t want to go anywhere, though? What if you love your home and you want to stay right where you are? You’re not alone. Many seniors want to stay in their own home, the place that holds memories, brings comfort, and feels like, well..….home.

What is Aging in Place?

Aging in place is the process of determining what types of housing and care considerations you need and want as you age.

An aging in place plan should support your quality of life goals. It requires thinking through different scenarios and potential outcomes. The sooner you start to plan, the more prepared you’ll be to meet the challenges that come with aging.

Making an Aging in Place Plan

The most important part of an aging in place plan is having a plan. That doesn’t mean you have to write it all down (though you could). That means thinking about things such as:

  • Where do you want to live?
  • Who do you want to live near?
  • What kinds of activities do you want to continue (or begin) in your retirement years?
  • How is your current health? Do you need special medical help or equipment?
  • What kinds of help might you need with your daily living tasks? (These tasks are often referred to as activities of daily living or ADL.)
  • How is your current mobility? What supports might you need if your mobility decreases?
  • Do you need to create changes in your home that will make it safer for you?

It’s helpful to have this conversation with family or loved ones. Talking it out can help you clarify things for yourself. Family and friends can weigh in with their concerns. They can also let you know if they will be able to provide you with any kind of support.

Think About Support in Categories

You can have some control of what you want aging in place to look like, especially if you plan ahead. Use the following categories to help you start planning.

Household chores Things like lugging laundry, scrubbing the bathroom, or general cleaning can become more difficult as we age. Shopping for groceries and cooking can as well. This is often the simplest and least expensive type of assistance to find.

Homeowner chores If you own your own home, you know there is always something that needs to be done. Seasonal chores, spring cleaning, and repair work are challenges even when we’re young and healthy. Think about who can help with these bigger tasks.

Personal Care Personal care assistance includes things like showering, shaving, and dressing. Don’t postpone getting help with personal care if you are at risk for falling, especially with regard to showering. You’re more likely to fall in the bathroom than anywhere else in your house.

Transportation Being able to drive or take public transportation when and where you want is a given when you’re young and healthy. Add age and physical or cognitive health issues, and it’s a whole new ballgame. You don’t have to be stuck in your house, though. There are many services that are offered to get seniors to and from where they want to go.

Accepting Help from Friends and Strangers

Once you’re ready to accept help with personal or home needs, there are two avenues for getting support. You can get help from

  • people you know----family, friends, or neighbors.
  • people you don’t know----either private individuals or agency professionals.

Some people are adamant that they don’t want strangers in their home. Others don’t want to bother their friends and family and would prefer to work with professional home care workers. Only you know your comfort level with these choices.

Where to Find Caregiving Help

There are tons of agencies that deal with senior services. It’s a good idea to start making a list of resources you can call upon when the time comes.

Your local senior center

 As many seniors and caregivers will tell you, local senior centers are an incredible resource. Whatever stage you’re at in needing care or planning for care, they can point you towards the right resources. They know the agencies and can give you information on avenues for financial help.

In addition to social activities (both onsite and virtual), senior centers often have a medical escort program where volunteers drive you directly to medical appointments. Senior centers usually have a dedicated van that makes regular trips to grocery stores, downtown shopping areas, and medical buildings. Often there is no fee for medical escort drivers or the van.

Veterans’ organizations

If you’ve served in the military, your local veterans’ administration can also be a resource for getting assistance. You may be able to receive financial assistance and medical care, depending on your eligibility.

In-home care services

Your senior center or doctor can give you a list of recommended agencies. Look for one with a sliding fee scale. In-home care agencies can help with household chores, shopping, and cooking. They factor in time for companionship, which is often what seniors appreciate the most.

These agencies offer personal care assistance as well, such as showering, shaving and dressing.

In-home medical assistance

If you go to the hospital for any reason, your doctors may prescribe in-home nursing care to follow-up and make sure you’re healing okay. Insurance will usually cover the cost, but only for a prescribed period of time. If you need ongoing in-home medical assistance, you may have to dig deeper to find agencies that offer these services.

Pro tip: Start a file to keep track of phone numbers, brochures, and any other resources you gather concerning your aging in place plans.

Monetary Considerations

When it comes to choosing your care options, money is always a consideration. Getting in-home services can certainly come with a price tag. Even if you have several types of in-home assistance, though, the cost will likely be far less---potentially thousands of dollars less---than moving to an assisted living facility.

Money is another reason to start this process early. The more research you do, the more likely you are to find avenues for financial supports.

Look Around to Reduce Your Risk of Falling

Have a friend or hire a professional to take a good look around your home for common falling risks. Innocent things like area rugs that slide or flip over can cause a fall. A tub without non-slip treads is a big no-no.

It may seem silly, but having too much stuff in your home can spell trouble. Piles of paper or magazines can tumble over exactly where you’re stepping and land you in the hospital. Too much furniture can impede you walking safely from one room to another.

Making Accommodations to Your Current Home

A qualified contractor can make provide a home safety assessment for a few hundred dollars. That’s money well-spent if it helps you avoid injury. Several physical changes can be made to your home that can make it safer and more comfortable as your physical needs change.

You can:

  • have doorways and hallways widened
  • add ramps to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs
  • have bathroom grab bars installed
  • make a cut out in your bathtub so it’s easier to get in and out
  • switch out lower kitchen cabinets for easy-slide drawers

Aging in place is worth pursuing for physical, emotional and financial reasons. Start making plans early, so you’re ready for whatever comes your way.

Need to clear the clutter so you can stay safe in your home? Contact us to see how we can help!