Aging in Place
What Does Aging in Place Mean?
Aging in place is a relatively new term that describes a way of life that’s been around long before there were skilled nursing and assisted living homes. It refers to older seniors choosing to stay in their homes for the rest of their lives – or at least as long as possible. Until recently the option of aging in place was only feasible for the relatively healthy, who were able to live independently – or the very rich who could afford to pay for skilled nursing care in their home. Today, people are combining advanced technology, creativity, and determination to make aging in place a viable option, even for those with diminishing capabilities.
What Aging Place Is Not
You may hear the term “aging in place” used in marketing materials for Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), but the general definition really doesn’t apply to CCRCs because seniors have to move initially from their home to the CCRC. Once they live there, they may need to move to different wings or campuses as their level of care needs increase, from independent living, to assisted living, and so on. While these communities can be a great option, they are different than the “Aging in Place” referred to here.
It’s a Beautiful Day in the Ol’ Neighborhood
Most older adults would like to stay in their homes for the rest of their lives. Homes and neighborhoods hold memories and help us feel at place in the world. It’s comforting for your parents to be able to look out their window and see the tree they planted years ago, or wave hello to Millie across the street. Moving is often disorienting, especially making several moves over a short period of time, which is often the case when physical or cognitive health begins to fade.
Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities, or NORCs are neighborhoods where most residents have stayed in their homes and are now seniors. Many have known each other since they were carpooling to Little League games and sharing babysitters. Now they share senior transportation services, yard and home maintenance help, meal delivery, and more. By banding together, they access services to aid those needing assistance, save money, and retain a high quality of life.
Seniors who choose to stay and adapt their homes to their changing needs can enjoy:
- Maintaining a higher level of independence.
- Living in comfortable, familiar surroundings.
- Staying in their community, hanging out with their peeps.
Aging in place can also make sense financially. Of course, this greatly depends on individual circumstances. If your parents’ house is paid off or has a low mortgage payment, it may be less expensive for them to stay in their home and hire home aids and health care than to try to sell the house and move in to an assisted living facility. However, certain conditions, such as late stage Alzheimer’s or other dementia, or those needing 24 hour skilled nursing care, may be better served in a healthcare environment. Talk to a geriatric care manager and your financial consultant to determine what makes the most sense for your parents.
Customize with Ramps, Handrails, Pull-Down Closet Rods, Flashing Phones, and More!
Once you and your parents have decided on the aging in place option, you’ll need to carefully assess their home. Most houses need modifications or remodeling. The good news is there’s now a multitude of options – from simple gadgets to techno-wizard gizmos – that can make home even homier for an older senior.