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Aging in place: Considerations for your future
There are few places in the world that are more comfortable than your own home. Home is the place where life’s memories are built, where some have raised their families and where people feel most like themselves.
With the majority of people preferring the familiar surroundings of their own home to a new or unfamiliar place, it is not surprising to see that the AARP reported in 2015 that 90 percent of those aged 65 or older have stated that staying in their homes for as long as possible, or “aging in place,” is a personal goal.
Aging in place is an important choice to consider, because as more baby boomers approach retirement age, there will be less and less nursing-home space available. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by the year 2030, roughly 20 percent of the nation’s population will be 65 and older. And in addition to the aging population, the number of total nursing homes in the U.S. decreased by 9 percent from 2000 to 2009. This means our country will be facing a severe shortage when it comes to having enough nursing home beds to serve the aging.
Local aging agencies and independent living organizations across the country are working hard to ensure that people see aging in place, as opposed to assisted living, as a viable option.
Maintaining quality of life when aging in place is very important, and that takes proactive planning and preparation. Consider these steps when weighing your options.
After determining that it makes financial sense to stay in your home, you should make sure to have a solid plan in place. A good first step is assessing the type of help that you may need down the road. Whether you live alone, or with a spouse, speak with a doctor about any health issues you have, and the specific challenges that may arise when trying to take care of yourself.
It is also important to think about any home repairs or remodels that will need to be done in order to ensure a comfortable and easily accessible living space. If you’re unsure of what adaptive solutions you will need, a professional, such as an occupational therapist, can help you determine what barriers you will need to address.
Maintain social connections
One of the most important factors for aging in place is ensuring that one still has a proper support system and social connections. In addition to family, relationships with neighbors, longtime friends, or acquaintances in community organizations and clubs are extremely important, as many aging Americans face issues related to social isolation.
Have a set schedule in place for social outings, for visitors to come to your home, or to get out in the community.
Ensure high quality of life
Making sure that you are comfortable and maintaining a high quality of life while aging in place is an important factor to keep in mind. When it is time for in-home help, be sure to consult your local Area Agency on Aging or center for independent living for local resources. There are numerous types of help that you can get in your own home, and there also are many local resources that can assist in drastically reducing, or eliminating, any cost that is associated.
Whether it be a hired professional, friend, or family member, make sure there is someone committed to helping you with personal care, various household chores, occasional cooking and money management.
Working with a licensed occupational therapist also can be extremely beneficial when aging in place, as they can help you reach your own personal goals when it comes to the ease of your everyday activities.
Evaluate and update
Aging in place is a great option for some, but it is important to evaluate and assess your situation every year or so, and truly take into account your quality of life. If your situation drastically changes, or new health issues arise, it may be time to consider other living arrangements.
With an impending shortage of assisted living in the United States, it is important that people consider the option of aging in place. Being proactive and planning for the future is the first step toward making your home a great, and comfortable, place to age gracefully.