As we age, it is common for our health or lifestyle needs to change. Houses with many rooms and multiple floors that were once necessary for raising a family can become more burdensome as we age. For older adults facing mobility or other health challenges, professional support may be necessary.
The challenges of living at home or in one place become increasingly difficult as we age. “Age in place” is a term used to describe the techniques and approaches used to keep older adults living in one place, no matter their health needs or support required to keep them safe and comfortable.
Plan Ahead for Aging
Staying in one place, regardless of lifestyle or health needs, can be very difficult. If you or your loved one would like to age in place, it is essential to plan and make the right moves before any significant health changes or crises occur.
As we age, we can expect changes in our visibility, flexibility, hearing, balance, and ability to live without assistance. For that reason, you can make adjustments to your home while you are able-bodied or begin the process of moving to a different home that can accommodate any changes, long term.
For some, there isn’t really an option of living alone. Those living with memory impairment or mobility challenges often need the support of a community of specially trained staff. But for those with minor or stable health issues, it is possible to age in place at home.
To safely live at home, it’s important to create an environment that can adjust to any health changes one might encounter. Consider the size and type of home and the amount of work you may need to put into a space to make it comfortable and livable regardless of your or your loved one’s health. A single-story home or home with a first-floor bedroom will make it easier for aging adults. Hand railings or lifts for staircases and support railings in bathrooms and bedrooms can also help increase the livability of a house as our bodies age.
Regardless of how you proceed, it’s important to keep a house comfortable and safe to make it appropriate to age in place.
There are other factors to consider when planning to age in place alone, like proximity to grocery stores, doctors’ offices, and general locations that one might need to frequent. You will also want to consider general housing upkeep and maintenance. Whether done by family or professionals, it is important to budget and prepare for the impact those may have on your ability to age in place.
Living in a Community
A retirement, assisted living, nursing home, or senior living community may also offer age in place options. When searching for a community, consider what will happen as your health changes. Some senior communities have caps to the amount of support they can provide or cannot accommodate residents needing memory care.
When researching communities look for those that offer tiered services or graduated care. If you tour a home, be sure to ask if residents ever need to move because of a support need and what requires a resident to move.
Remember, age in place means lifelong living, not calling a place home for a small amount of time. In order to age in place, a community should be able to adapt and provide support, no matter what level or type of care you or your loved one might require.
Thinking Long Term
You do not have to wait until your senior years to begin planning your later years. Knowing if you would like to age in place and having a plan to follow can help you make decisions in a careful and practical manner. Begin researching communities today or determine what work might need to be done on your house to ensure your home is a safe place to age.