“Aging in place,” the ability to live and age independently in your own home or community safely, is the goal for almost 90 percent of seniors, according to research conducted by AARP and the National Conference of State Legislatures. And it’s not only healthy seniors who want to remain independent. Even those who need regular medical care and daily assistance may want to continue to live in their own homes. However, fall risks, injuries, or other medical issues may make it more difficult for someone to remain living independently.
What’s Being Done to Help?
Aging in place is greatly aided by community resources for seniors, as well as organizations in the area that offer much-needed services. Developing these resources requires changing how communities are designed and built, taking the needs of older adults into consideration. Without these changes, seniors may find aging in place increasingly difficult, and eventually moving to an assisted living home may become the only option.
The National Conference of State Legislatures has been active in examining state and local policies that keep seniors in their own homes. They’ve identified many best practices, and they encourage states to take steps to help seniors achieve their goals of remaining at home. Their recommendations include:
- Offering easy and reliable transportation choices when seniors can no longer drive
- Delivering items to homebound seniors and offering services in their homes
- Helping to make current housing more accessible and safe if there are mobility issues
- Preventing social isolation and depression with activities specifically for this age group
If you’re curious how your community is doing, you can contact your Area Agency on Aging to see what services are available. They can help you find the resources you need or tell you how to get involved in making it easier to age in place in your community.
What Can You Do?
While community support is vital for purposeful aging, if you wish to age in place, many aspects are within your own control. Talking with your friends and family about your wishes and making a plan for aging in place can help you for the future. Today, you can:
- Prepare your home: Fall-proof your home, and organize your furniture so that it’s easy to get around.
- Know there is help available: If your mobility issues call for major modification efforts in your home, call your local Area Agency on Aging to learn more about programs that offer funds through Title III of the Older Americans Act.
- Learn to use technology to your benefit: A medical alert system is a great investment and will offer you peace of mind. This is especially true if you live alone. Learn to use Skype or other video-call technology to keep in touch with family out of town or to check in with your grandchildren down the block.
- Be open about the prospect of eventually needing help: It’s hard to think about, but sometimes health issues prevent seniors from accomplishing daily tasks independently. Whether it’s a housekeeper to clean once a week or a nurse who comes by daily, there are people who can make it easier to help you remain independent.
Most people want to continue living on their own, in their own homes, for as long as possible. By being prepared for the challenges they may face and making use of community resources, aging in place is a possibility for many seniors.