This catchy phrase, “aging in place,” means seniors living at home and engaged in an active lifestyle for as long as possible. For financial reasons and personal reasons, many people do not want to live in an institutional setting. Nationally, nursing care is getting so expensive and costly for the Medicaid programs that pay for it, that new solutions are becoming more appealing than the traditional nursing home.
AARP surveyed baby boomers over age 55 and found out that 89% want to stay in their own homes as long as they possibly can. With this population expected to increase radically in the next 10-20 years, this issue is becoming a national conversation.
The main issues related to this are the barriers to staying in the home. One barrier is the home itself. Many homes are not set up for seniors, but rather, they are set up for bustling families. Making changes to a home can be a costly endeavor as well. There are companies sprouting up in every community that basically will come to a person’s home and help redesign and fix any problems so that aging in place is not only more comfortable, but also safe.
People in this field recommend that you start early on these types of home modifications to prepare your nest for later years. One self-test you can do at home is our safety checklist designed to identify areas that may need attention.
The next barrier is community. For many seniors, they are lucky to have good neighbors and family surrounding them in their residence. But, some do not have such social networks close-by. While more day programs are cropping up as this boomer generation is aging, there are many people who feel isolated and have few social opportunities. Lacking social opportunities can not only be difficult emotionally, but also may contribute to early institutionalization because a person may not have a ride to the doctor or pharmacy or may not be able to cook for himself or get supplies.
A good place to start understanding your options is your local Area Agency on Aging. They know what services and social opportunities are available in your area.
Thinking about aging in place before you become elderly is a good idea and a sound investment in the future.