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Aging in Place: What It Means and How to Make It Happen

May 10, 2023

As we age, many want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. Aging in place is a concept that allows seniors to do just that. It involves modifying the home and utilizing support services to ensure safety, comfort, and independence. According to a  survey conducted by AARP in 2018, approximately 76% of adults aged 50 years and older reported that they would prefer to remain in their current homes as they age. Another National Council on Aging survey found that 90% of older adults want to age in place.

Learn more about aging in place and how to make it a reality with this helpful guide.

Understanding Aging in Place

Aging in place is a concept that allows seniors to live in their own homes for as long as possible while maintaining their independence and quality of life. It involves modifying the home, such as installing grab bars and ramps, up-fitting homes with remote monitoring technology and smart home systems, setting up audio and video-based communication tools to connect to neighbors, friends and health care providers, and utilizing support services, such as home health aides and transportation services. The goal is to create a safe and comfortable living environment that meets the unique needs of each individual.

Assess Your Home for Safety and Accessibility

Before you can begin making modifications to your home to support aging in place, it’s important to assess your current living situation. This includes identifying potential hazards and obstacles that could make it difficult to navigate your home safely. Consider factors such as lighting, flooring, and the layout of your home.  You may also want to consult with a professional, such as an occupational therapist, to get a more comprehensive assessment of your needs. Once you have a clear understanding of what modifications are necessary, you can begin making the necessary changes to support aging in place.

Make Necessary Home Modifications

Making necessary home modifications is a crucial step in achieving aging in place. This may include installing grab bars in the bathroom, widening doorways to accommodate mobility aids, and adding ramps or stairlifts to navigate different levels of the home. It’s important to work with a professional contractor or handyman to ensure that modifications are done safely and effectively. Additionally, consider incorporating smart home technology, such as voice-activated assistants or remote-controlled lighting, to make daily tasks easier and more convenient. With the right modifications, you can continue to live comfortably and independently in your own home as you age.

Transform your Home to enable digital access to providers

One of the most important factors is the availability of robust and reliable internet connectivity via your carrier or cable service provider. Solutions like Telehealth, remote patient monitoring, and passive remote monitoring solutions are a great way to ensure your health, wellbeing and safety. They leverage the Internet of Things(IoT) along with Artificial intelligence to provide real time status of adverse conditions and connect to nearest family members, providers or responsible parties.

Consider Home Care Services

While making home modifications is important, it’s also crucial to consider the need for home care services as you age. Home care services can provide assistance with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and meal preparation, as well as medication management and transportation to appointments. This can help you maintain your independence and quality of life while staying in your own home. Research different home care providers in your area and consider their services and pricing to find the best fit for your needs.  Home Care Association of America (HCAOA) is a non-profit organization that represents home care agencies and provides a directory of their members on their website at https://www.hcaoa.org/Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) is an association of care managers who can help you find and coordinate home care services.

Plan for Future Needs and Support

Aging in place requires planning for future needs and support. This includes considering potential health issues, mobility limitations, and social support. It’s important to have a plan in place for how you will access medical care, transportation, and social activities. This may involve enlisting the help of family members, friends, or professional caregivers. It’s also important to consider the financial implications of aging in place, including the cost of home modifications and ongoing care. Planning ahead can help ensure that you are able to age in place comfortably and safely.

Here is a list of resources to help assess your home for safety and accessibility

Resources for Home Modifications

AARP HomeFit Guide – a free guide provided by AARP that offers tips and advice for seniors who want to make their homes safe, comfortable, and accessible as they age. The guide covers topics such as home modifications, lighting, and fall prevention.

National Association of Home Builders  – Aging in Place remodeling

Habitat for Humanity   is a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing solutions, including home modifications for seniors.

Eldercare Locator  is a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging that connects seniors and their families with local resources, including home modification programs.

Checklists

There are several checklists available online that can help you assess your home for safety and accessibility.

National Institute on Aging Home Safety Checklist

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  Home Fall Prevention Checklist

Occupational Therapists

Occupational Therapists are trained to assess homes for safety and accessibility. They can help identify potential hazards and recommend modifications that can improve safety and accessibility. You can find an occupational therapist in your area by contacting the American Occupational Therapy Association at https://www.aota.org/.

National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC): https://www.ageinplace.org/ The NAIPC is a non-profit organization that provides resources and information about aging in place, including a directory of professionals who can help with home modifications.

Other Important Resources

Area Agency on Aging (AAA): The AAA is a network of local agencies that provide information and services to seniors and their families, including home modification programs.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a program called the Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) program, which provides financial assistance to veterans for home modifications that improve accessibility and mobility.

Are you considering aging in place?  Share your thoughts and comments in the comments section below.

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