Aging in place is the term used to describe the process and result of making any necessary adjustments and alternations to your current living space, so that you can remain living there safely and securely even when mobility and healthcare needs are an issue. Aging in place is also the overwhelming choice of seniors. According to retirementliving.com and housewires.com, ninety percent of seniors want to age in place. Surveys put out by AARP and a few other senior-focused sites, over seventy-five percent of respondents said they wanted to age in place.
Numbers do not lie, right? So, let’s take a few minutes to look at what it takes to age in place, i.e., what needs to be done on your part to keep you in your home for as long as possible. Maybe for the rest of your life.
ONE: Make sure it is financially feasible. This one is usually a ‘given’. At this point in time, you are probably mortgage-free, or nearly so. It doesn’t take much to know that even though you still have to pay real estate taxes and insurance on your home, those amounts will still add up to less than what you would pay in monthly rent in an apartment, senior community, or assisted living facility.
TWO: Make sure you have the financial resources to make any necessary adjustments and alternations. The vast majority of things you need to do to make your home safer for aging in place cost little to nothing. Getting rid of throw rugs (a tripping hazard), installing automatic on/off switches on porch/exterior lights, moving your bedroom to the main floor (if it isn’t already), and rearranging the cabinets so that the items you use on a daily and weekly basis are within your natural reach, involve no or minimal cost. There will be cost involved with things like installing a walk-in shower and grab bars in the bathroom, moving the laundry facility to the main floor (if it isn’t already), and building a ramp to use instead of stairs to get from the garage to the interior of the house, or to get on and off the porch.
THREE: Make sure you have the financial resources to pay for home healthcare if it becomes necessary. This isn’t always a matter of having a large sum of money stashed away in the bank. It is more a matter of knowing what your rights are for assistance and preparing to be able to receive it. Making sure this is all in order involves a process referred to as spending down.
FOUR: Spend down. This is the process of redistributing your assets before you die and before you are in need of home healthcare or the care that can only be received in a facility. Every state’s spend-down rules tend to vary, so while there are some basic national guidelines, it is best for you to engage the help of someone who specializes in elder law, or senior services.
FIVE: Do you have someone you can call on? Aging in place does not mean flying solo. In fact, your ability to age in place almost always depends on the quality of your support team. Family member(s) who can be trusted to help you understand bills and statements, who can be an extra set of eyes and ears at the doctor and an advocate for you, and family and friends who will help with transportation (if necessary) to church, shopping, appointments, and so forth are essential. Oh, and so are family and friends who will ‘just’ visit and socialize with you.
SIX: Humility. Yes, you have to be willing to swallow your pride and accept help with things like yardwork, home repairs and maintenance, transportation, and whatever else you might not be able to handle like you used to. Or even just temporarily—say after recovering from illness or surgery. This is something a lot of seniors have a tough time doing, but remember this: accepting a little help now, can keep you from being completely helpless later on.
Aging in place is hands-down the most beneficial way for seniors to live in their sixties, seventies, eighties, and beyond. The security, familiarity, and sense of belonging are detrimental in maintaining the person’s confidence, sense of belonging, and self-worth. So, whether you are a senior or the child of a senior, anyone who desires to age in place should be given the respect to do so as long as humanly possible.
Guest post By Darla Nobel
The views expressed by the author may not reflect the views of Age Safe America, LLC. The content here should not be taken as medical, legal or financial advice. The content here is for informational purposes only, and because each person is so unique, please consult your own healthcare, legal or financial professional with any questions.