Many seniors desire to remain in their homes as they grow older. To them, the home can be full of familiar surroundings and great memories. There are many reasons why you may want to age in place, but it is important to consider safety and other factors when evaluating your options.
Essentially, seniors and their families are faced with three options:
- To stay at home and not address growing challenges or concerns
- To outfit the home and come up with solutions that work for their situation
- To move into an assisted living facility
If your ideal situation is the second on the list, you aren’t alone. Many seniors prefer to stay at home and create solutions for their specific challenges. Everyone’s needs are different, and what works for one person might not be right for another.
If you hope to age well from home, there are several things to consider. The most important issues to think about are your safety and health, and it should be the number one concern of anyone who is providing care or considering aging in place to address these issues head-on.
There are also financial issues to consider, as well as convenience and travel. When determining whether you want to age in place and stay in your home, you’ll need to consider the following:
Health While Aging in Place
Your health –in its current state and in the coming years – is one of the most important factors to consider when it comes to aging in place. For some, living out the remaining years of their lives in their current homes just isn’t going to be an option. For others, they’ll need to take a wait-and-see approach and make the most of the time they have to live independently.
Ask yourself, “how is my health right now?” Then think about whether or not you are doing things to maintain your health. This is often one of the toughest issues for seniors to face because it could require them to make tough lifestyle changes. The important thing to realize is that if your ultimate goal is to remain in your home as you age, taking care of your health and well-being is essential.
Be objective when evaluating your health and what you’re doing to care for it. There are plenty of resources that can help you! Start by speaking to your doctor and getting an accurate assessment of your health from a medical point of view. Are you coping with any medical conditions or just dealing with the normal issues that everyone faces as they age? It’s also important to consider your risks. Your doctor can educate you about your specific health risks and give you details about the risks you’ll face based on your current lifestyle.
Could remaining in your home for another decade or more be as simple as losing a few pounds? Could joining a senior yoga class help you improve flexibility and make it easier to move around your space? Can taking a walk more regularly help you control your diabetes? It’s important not to be resistant to simple changes that can help you achieve your goal of living at home longer.
It’s also important to consider mental health. You might be mobile and able to move around your home without a problem, but living alone (If that’s your situation) can put your emotional health in jeopardy. We’ve written before about the benefits of socialization as we age, and the negative side effects of not socializing enough. If you’ve lived with a spouse or other family members for years and living alone has you feeling depressed, your health is at risk. Some people brush off how they are feeling emotionally and focus only on their physical health, but this can lead to serious problems! Be aware of your mental and emotional health and do what needs to be done to care for it.
Modifications For Aging In Place
The good news is that there are many options for seniors who are experiencing physical changes that present a safety risk in the home. There are plenty of modifications that can be made in an environment that minimizes risks. They range from simple and inexpensive changes to extreme home renovations. Determining what you need is an important part of aging well from home.
It’s also important to consider whether or not a modification is practical and affordable. Sometimes what is needed is just too much for a homeowner. For instance, it’s one thing to add a safety bar or shower seat to make bathing safer and an entirely different project to install a more accessible shower. If modifications are just too extensive or could cause a decline in the value of a home, it might be better to consider other options.
On the other hand, there are many more solutions available now than ever before. Many seniors can make modifications to their homes that don’t change the permanent structure of the home. For instance, you can purchase a wheelchair ramp that can be installed over a small staircase and removed when it’s no longer needed. Lifts can be added to chairs and beds can be purchased that raise and recline to make entering and exiting in the morning and at night easier.
One of the most important things you can do when trying to plan aging in place is to conduct research. This way you can learn what’s available to help you with safety concerns in the home. If you’ve never dealt with mobility issues or anything similar, you might have no idea just how many options there are to help around the home. Before making any major decisions, make sure you know what tools are available to help you remain in your home safely and comfortably.
Mobility Tips to Age Well From Home
Getting around safely may become an issue for many seniors. For example, it’s fairly common for older adults to experience injuries caused by falls. What was once an easy trip out to the mailbox can sometimes become a chore, especially if there is snow. Not to mention getting to the post office, library, or supermarket each week.
The main key to mobility while aging in place is finding ways to get around without issue. One of the first things you’ll want to consider when creating a plan for how to age well from home is an evaluation of your mobility.
Many seniors remain quite mobile well into old age. Their balance might not be what it once was, or they might get winded walking upstairs, but for the most part, they remain active and have great mobility. Others may struggle and need a wheelchair. Some might require a walker or other mobility devices when leaving their home, or be confined to a chair or bed. Whatever the case, we are all different.
Take a look at how mobile you are and consider whether your mobility has been on the decline or if you can expect things to remain the same. There are no guarantees in life, and someone whose health is declining can soon begin to experience mobility issues. Often this gradual decline can be predicted. As your needs increase in the coming months and years, it’s something you can prepare for!
Caregiving Considerations for Aging In Place
Outfitting your home with safety equipment is an important part of aging gracefully at home, but it might not provide enough support. Some seniors simply need the help of another person. This can range from part-time assistance with running errands to daily round-the-clock care. Help can be provided for medication, health management or supervision, putting safety and good health first.
Finding the right caregiving solution is an important part of remaining in your home as you age.
A few things you’ll want to consider when researching about in-home caregiving:
- Do you need medical assistance?
- Has a heath issue arisen that requires supervision or nursing assistance?
- Will you need help daily?
- Will your caregiver be taking you out of the home?
- Are you looking for companionship or practical assistance?
- Could family members assist you with your caregiving needs, or will you need to hire professional assistance?
- Can you afford to hire an in-home caregiver that provides the level of care you need?
It’s important to take a reasonable look at your situation and be honest with yourself about what you need. Some seniors struggle to admit they need help. But, the truth is, getting the help they need from a caregiver is what will make it possible to remain in their own homes for the long-term. Once you are ready to begin searching for in-home care, be on the lookout for good companies with solid reviews. We recommend Sunland Home Care, but be sure to conduct your own search and find the right quality of care for your situation!
Lifestyle Changes as We Age From Home
It’s easy to think that the most practical solution will be exactly what you should do. But the truth is, that’s not always the case. We are emotional beings, and a person’s current lifestyle is going to play a major role in how happy he or she is with an alternative way of living.
For instance, if you currently live alone and love it, adjusting to life in an assisted living community where you are surrounded by people can be difficult. On the other hand, if you miss sharing your living space with someone or you’ve lost your spouse recently, maybe a change is exactly what you need.
In addition to your daily living situation, ask yourself, “How much do I enjoy socializing?” Some seniors prefer to spend a lot of time alone, focused on their closest loved ones and their hobbies. Others will feel too isolated by this lifestyle and might experience depression if they aren’t socializing enough.
Next, you’ll want to determine whether remaining in your home enables you to enjoy your preferred lifestyle. If you enjoy socializing, do you have a way to get out and about when you want to spend time with friends or enjoy activities? If you would rather spend more time alone, are you comfortable bringing a caregiver into your space?
Like most of the considerations that go into planning how you’ll age in place, there is no one right or wrong answer. Each person needs to evaluate their ideal living situation and determine how to implement it in the safest way possible.
Financial Considerations to Aging In Place
Finally, you’ll need to assess your financial situation. As nice as it would be for finances not to be a factor, not all solutions are affordable for everyone. Understanding your financial situation and how it affects your options is an important part of making the right decision for your living situation. Take time to examine your finances and if necessary, have a professional help you assess your needs and options.
There’s no avoiding the fact that your financial situation affects where you can live and what you can do during any phase of your life. However, it’s probably most important as you age since your income might be fixed. An important factor in planning how to age well from home is knowing where you stand financially, now and tomorrow.
Keep in mind, everyone’s situation is different. It’s important to hear the concerns of your loved ones, but don’t let them pressure you into anything that doesn’t feel right for you. No matter your situation, you’ll have options, and it’s important to explore those options before deciding where to go from there. Aging in place is possible, and with the right planning and outlook, you can do it safely and affordably.
And of course, if you find that aging in place isn’t the best option for you it can be worthwhile to explore assisted or independent living options. Next week we’ll compare living at home to living in an assisted living community, so stay tuned and subscribe to our blog!